June 3, 2015
May 28, 2015
|HAYS COUNTY FLOOD INFORMATION|
|Howdy, all. I hope this message finds you safe, secure and dry. Please take a moment to pray for all of those affected by the flooding this past weekend.|
Cypress Creek Church , 211 Stillwater, 8 a.m.- 5 p.m.
San Marcos Plaza Park, 206 C.M.Allen Parkway, 8 a.m. - 5 pm
Coordinated by City of San Marcos, Hays County, and AmeriCorps
|Remembering the Beauty. San Marcos River at the San Marcos Mill Tract (2011)|
|At Randall Vetter Park (2013). Photo by Marlee Claes|
January 15, 2015
5 Steps To Becoming
A Successful Commercial Country Singer
$150 jeans and $100 plaid shirt, or classic rock & roll shirts, or Southern Thread apparel…if you feel really bold… why not an Affliction shirt. Add a handkerchief sticking out of back pocket and a wallet chain… basically try and look like a more douche-y version of 1990s grunge and add a cowboy hat or John Deere-themed baseball cap. Facial hair is not recommended, but it doesn’t hurt early on… when you’re looking hungry. It’ll give the record company something to stick a feather in their hat saying they “improved upon your look” when they sent you to the stylist and they shave you.
Write your songs about trucks, Saturday night, Dirt Roads, Drinking too much and driving, yesteryear, fields, tractors, barns, blondes and tailgates. Make sure you have a chorus that is easy to remember and is repeated often… Don’t worry… your stuff will never actually make it on the radio… if you have a decent voice and look good you’ll get “label support” which means a team of writers will be penning the song everyone will assume is about your youth.
Oh.. Just hire some session musicians to play on the album… it’ll save you from firing your best friend when the record company decides they are only interested in “carrying” one person.
Oh.. I guess I should have mentioned that before… you need the deep pockets of a record company to make it… you know.. so your amazingly polished sound (that has the same sound as 4 other bands with songs in the top 10 this week) can make its way to corporate radio (cha-ching) and begin a serious rotation (palm greased). Or maybe you can go on some music-based reality TV show. That might work.. if you can get on there... Oooh... or just marry a music exec’s daughter.
(Note: If you’re a commercial country singer and you read this… don’t worry, I’m talking about the other ones.. not you. You got it honestly… we can all see that. Love you… have all of your albums).
Sean Claes has been a music journalist for about 20 years and he doesn't actually believe the above story to be true… but writing it made him chuckle. I hope it does for you as well. It's humor...OK? Breathe.
If you're ACTAULLY looking for advice on being a successful musician... I did a 52-week series of advice for DIY musicians here - link
January 1, 2015
- In 2009-2010, I decided to write 52 Weeks of Austin-based CD reviews: Link
- In 2010-11 I wrote 52 Weeks of DIY Music Advice: Link
- 3. My current mission (which has been put on hold due to other obligations) is to interview 52 Austin-based bands: Link
- I have also had a photo-blog promoting my town of Kyle, Texas since 2008. I include this because it gives an idea of creativity + short & snappy posts. Link
- For the 2008 Buda Lions Club Weiner Dog Races, I wrote this commercial and voiced it as well.
The theme of the year was "Nacho Weiner," a play off of the Jack Black movie Nacho Libre. See YouTube video below
December 24, 2014
Keep Kyle Charming - Buy Local
|Go Karting at Central Texas Speedway|
By Sean Claes
I have lived in Kyle, Texas for the last 12 or so years and have watched it grow and grow. Kyle now has the numbers to support stores like HEB, Target, Ross, Lowes, Home Depot, and a slew of others... The awesome thing about THAT is when larger business move in, it makes way for the "little guy" to open up shop... but without a big national advertising budget, small owner-operator businesses sometimes struggle to let people know they exist...so I thought I'd make this list of some of the most fantastic local-to-Kyle shops.
I wrote this thinking of shopping for Christmas presents.
- For salsas, honey, photos, beautiful crosses and other stocking stuffers try Cross Plants and Produce
- For getaway present, consider Sage Hill Inn Above Onion Creek
- For an awesome go-kart racing coupon: Central Texas Speedway
- For the kiddos, how about a gift card to The Jumpy Place or music lessons at Curious Chords Music Studio at Plum Creek
- Shopping for a lady? Try Tiaras
- Buy a friend a hookah from The Pipe Lion
- Bring a drinkable gift to a party for the host from FriDaze Liquor
- Have a hunter or gun enthusiest on your list? Gun Guys & Gals
- Maybe a massage from Hands On Healing
- Everyone loves flowers... and Lutricks Florist is awesome.
- Funky furniture from the past? Try Sway Vintage
- For anything else... and I mean ANYTHING.. check out the Kyle Flea Market
- Find Gardening supplies and cool stuff from Sustainacycle's Sustainable Living Center at Kyle
- Awesome Kettle Corn goodness can be found at Lone Star Kettle Corn (soon to open a storefront.. but contact them direct for now)
- Satisfy your BBQ lover with a gift certificate from Milt's Pit BBQ
- Have to bring some dessert to a gathering? Check out the The Texas Pie Company (I prefer their Peanut Butter Pie, FYI)
- Help your friend/family reach their fitness goals with Elite BodyWorks of Kyle
- The gift of news year round? Buy your loved one a subscription to The Hays Free Press.
- Are you buying for someone who needs a computer diagnostic or a fix or an upgrade? Maybe an awesome new gaming computer? Get them a gift certificate for Blue Computer Solutions.
- Buying for someone who needs that adrenaline rush? Go Karting from Central Texas Speedway is a great option.
It's good for the businesses for you to shop local.. it's good for the local economy and blah blah blah... but what's even cooler is you can buy something that is unique.. you may even meet the person who made it... you can find that thing you never knew you needed... and meet your neighbors all at the same time. It's like a shopping adventure.. because shopping should be fun.. right?
Happy Shopping Kyle, Texas.
(I originally wrote this in December 2014 as a Local Christmas List... please feel free to shoot me a note when this needs updated if I don't catch new business openings and/or closings... thanks. seanclaesATseanclaesDOTcom.)
September 13, 2014
|I'm Sean Claes. I like turtles... and my marshmallows on fire... and Austin music.|
Week 2: Heather Bishop (1/17/12)
Week 3: Ransom Jack (1/24/12)
Week 4: HONEYCREEPER (1/31/12)
Week 5: Alpha Rev (2/7/12)
Week 6: TRES (2/14/12)
Week 7: Jeremy Steding (2/21/12)
Week 8: DSGNS (2/28/12)
Week 9: Art Versus Industry (3/6/12)
Week 10: Butcherwhite (3/21/12)
Week 11: Will Porter (3/28/12)
Week 12: The South Austin Moonlighters (4/3/12)
Week 13: Granger Smith (4/11/12)
Week 14: Oh Look Out (4/29/12)
Week 15: Dave Madden (5/7/12)
Week 16: Snake Skin Prison (5/9/12)
Week 17: Midgetmen (5/11/12)
Week 18: Righteous Brisket (5/16/12)
Week 20: Mark Allan Atwood (7/31/12)
Week 21: Moonlight Social (8/8/12)
Week 22: Sheer Khan and the Space Case (9/26/12)
(long pause... life happens)
Week 23: Deserts of Mars (3/5/13)
Week 24: Say Hello To The Angels (3/15/13)
Week 24: Zane Williams (11/13/13)
September 2014: Well... the 52 weeks will take more than 3 years as we're in September 2014 now and about to publish Week 25. Sorry.. but I swear I'll get this done at some point. I've been spending time at my full-time job as well as getting a new concert series off the ground in my hometown of Kyle, Texas Concerts for a Cause can be found at kyleconcerts.com. Bear with me... I committed to 52 interviews and I'll deliver.
1. You to reach out to me at seanclaesATseanclaes.com with a Subject Line that reads "52 Weeks Interview." We'll touch base with each other and schedule a date for publishing.
The interviews will be published on INsite's Webpage .
June 3, 2014
Sunset Electronics - My story of a Cracked Lens and Cracked Customer Service
|My collection of FujiFilm Cameras|
Our first class customer service is ready to solve your problems
I took a few photos of little events in town, but I used my older camera (the HS20) to do my non-essential shooting since I wanted to protect the HS50 for my freelance photography gigs. I had no issues with the quality, I really, really like the brand and how easy it is to get great shots and be professional without spending a mint on gear (the lens and body are one piece).
So, although my wife bought this at the end of January and here it was May, I thought I'd contact Sunset Electronics because I was sure they'd do the right thing and replace the camera. My wife contacted them through her Amazon account since she was the one who ordered it.
So just to be clear the lens is the issue not the actual camera correct?
|A clip of the photo where I noticed the "sunspot"|
|Me pointing to the camera|
|The crack is in the middle|
Unfortunately our return policy is only good for 30 days after you receive the camera. I don't mean to sound rude, but whats to prevent a customer (not you) from dropping their camera and then trying to return it well after the 30 days? I do feel bad but my hands are tied. it puts me in a very tough position. You should try contacting FujiFilm and see what your options are. If you would have told me this a week after you received it, I would be more than glad to sends a replacement. I'm sorry I couldn't do more to help you.
"I don't mean to sound rude, but whats to prevent a customer (not you) from dropping their camera and then trying to return it well after the 30 days?"
Because I am a fair person and I'm looking for a replacement camera for a camera that was never dropped and never damaged once it got to me... and since I didn't think about checking the center of the lens on the camera (because I assumed I was getting a brand new camera) I'm now stuck having gotten a $400 gift from my wife for my birthday that I can't use.
Steve, I'm not the guy that's trying to take you for your money or slip one by you. I'm a person who tries to make a little extra money on the side doing freelance photography... I am the communications chair of my church... I put on charity concerts... I'm not trying to pull the wool over your eyes.
I'm perfectly certain that you were not aware the camera was damaged when I received it.... the box was sealed... but I assure you... the crack was not caused by me and was there when I first began using the camera (recalling what I thought was odd "sun spots" that I attributed to the angle... it was the crack)
If you choose to help me out with this issue (I know it's a choice and I'd appreciate it if you would say yes... (and I know as soon as you see the crack you will know it couldn't have been caused by me... and you'll also see how easily it could have been missed).. I'm sure your contact with Fuji whom you order the cameras will be happy to replace the damaged piece.
If you are not interested in helping, perhaps you could give me a good contact at FujiFilm who might be able to assist me.
I know you hold the cards.. you can make the choice.. and you have the ability to help me if you choose to do so. I hope you will.
Ok I read your message and showed my manager. He wants to know if the scratch is on the outside of the lens or inside the lens?
It is directly in the center of the lens. After running my finger over it... seems that it's a crack on the surface.
Still.. it's never been dropped or manhandled... so it must have been there from the beginning. I've owned 5 Fujifilm cameras over the last decade and have never had any issue with them.
Just making sure.. you did get the images I attached with the previous e-mail, correct?
Hope you can help.
If you'd like to take this off the Amazon page, please feel free to e-mail me at [e-mail address removed] or call me at [phone number removed].
I'd love to get this solved before my next shoot. I've got some graduation photos scheduled in late May.
I will discuss this with my manager. And yes I did receive the photos and showed him.
I've not heard back from you on this. Really, I'd love some closure to the matter.
Last I heard from you was almost 3 weeks ago.
I was reminded about the crack yesterday while shooting the Memorial Day Service in town.
My favorite shot of the morning was ruined (for me) by the lens crack.
Please let me know if you are willing/able to do replace this camera.
I hope you do.
You are covered through the fujifilm warranty. Please contact them and they will be able to help you as this is 2 months past the 30 day returns period.
I've been going back and forth with "Steve" for the last month.
I don't know if you know or are privy to the larger story.
Was hoping to get this taken care of with the store I bought it... not the manufacturer. If I do need to go through the manufacturer, please supply me with the contact information.
I will use this e-mail exchange to drive my case home, as it's been ongoing.
- Sean Claes
(______ husband / she gave me this camera for my birthday this year)
Toll free: 888-424-FUJI (3854)
This has gotten fairly ridiculous.
This is Sean Claes... the recipient of the camera as a present. I'm writing from my wife's account (who bought it for me).
Fact - The camera was received with a crack in the middle of the lens.
I've sent photos. you have seen them.
I have never dropped the camera... and the crack is so small that I didn't notice it existed until I was shooting a family (I'm a freelance photographer) and the images came back ruined because of the way the sun reflected off the break. It only happens in certain angles when it hits the sun right.
I talked to Steve... it's been 3-4 weeks now.
I replied asking for an update. Adam replied with a generic "can't help you"
Then he replied with a "you need to call Fuji"
I called Fuji. They are going to charge me to fix it and said you should have taken care of it when I explained the situation.
I'm losing my patience.
I've been accused of trying to rip you off.
I've been accused of breaking the camera myself.
I've been brushed off to the larger company... who volleyed the ball back to you.
I'm a very patient person... but this needs to be solved.
I need to send the Fujifilm FinePix HS50EXR Digital Camera back to you.
You can take care of it from there... and deal with FujiFilm because a sealed box was OBVIOUSLY their issue to begin with...
I know you can send it back as damaged... and not have an issue.
You have every ability to send me a new undamaged camera.
If you have any issue with this....I need to talk to an actual manager.
- Sean Claes
Make this right. I've got my wife who feels horrible that she gave me a $400 camera for my birthday that was damaged from the factory that I can't use.. and am getting the runaround.
You only contacted us, May 5th (4 months later). I apologize we cannot take back the product.
If you want to be technical.. it’s been 3 months… Received in February… then March (month 1) April (month 2) and May (month 3). But that’s not what this is about.
You have sent me a faulty product. When I noticed it, I contacted you.
Order # [number removed]
I have explained myself well, and you have understood that I'm not trying to pull a fast one over on you.
I intend to make sure as many people as possible know what you have decided to do in light of me being upfront, honest and just wanting to get a product my wife paid for and gave me as a gift that works.
You have sent me a $459.99 useless product.
Make it right.
Here's my first review.
I promise to be fair and only include the actual conversations we've had....and my understanding of what "Customer Service" actually means to you. The last reply you have me didn't even have a name for clarity.
Make it right, please.
- Sean Claes
[phone number removed]
Please reply to [e-mail address removed] as I don't check [e-mail address removed] any longer.
- Sunset Electronics sent me a faulty product.
- I contacted them as soon as I noticed.
- They had the opportunity (and duty if their “About” section I quoted from their Amazon page) to make this right.
- Sunset Electronics is NOT BBB Accredited (but they have had 6 complaints filed against them and they have failed to respond to 4. - Link to BBB Page
- Sunset Electronics has a Facebook page (Since 1/31/13) that has only 5 likes (one of them me to bookmark for this blog… there will be 4 soon) and seems to never have been used – Link to Facebook
- Apparently in March 2014, Some guy by the name of Jeff Snyder was fairly upset with dealing with Sunset Electronics. He posted a YouTube video about it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OUxFe7yQzg
- Sunset Electronics has a Webpage that I get “access denied” when I try to click the link. http://www.sunset-electronics.com/
- Sunset Electronics (as of June 3) had a “4.7 star” rating on Amazon.com BUT at Yelp, they have two 1 star reviews.. and that’s it – Link to Yelp
- Sunset Electronics has made people unhappy enough to publish complaints on a site called “The Ripoff Report.” – Link to Sunset Electronics Ripoff Report Page
They still have the chance to make this right.
Sunset Electronics has never, not once, in no way tried to contact me and make this right. I stand by everything I said about them.
In June 2014 I posted a Amazon.com Review - here.
Within hours, FijiFilm contacted me and offered to make it right.
They mentioned that Sunset Electronics was not an official reseller as well. That might mean is someone tries to register for warranty work with the maker of the camera, it might me considered a "Grey Market" camera and will be denied.
Anyhow...I worked with FujiFilm and they, for the price of shipping and handling to their North America repair facility (Digital Camera Service & Support), fixed the camera...and offered to take a look at 2 of my other cameras to see if they could be fixed as well (the S9000s I have... unfortunately they weren't fixable).
BIG Thanks to Dan Scarola, National Manager w/ Fujifilm North America Inc. for taking such good care of this situation.
Unless Sunset Electronics steps up and acknowledges me, this will be the final update.
February 5, 2014
Here's my list:
1. Radio Shack - The 80s Called
This is the best example of jumping on your own grenade. It's been pretty obvious that the court of popular opinion has been wondering how Radio Shack stays in business with the perception that all of their stuff is antiquated. I mean, unless you're building a transistor or need speaker wire, why would you even go inside?
Now the reality is, Radio Shack wasn't really stuck in the 80s, but people had that perception.
Well.. this commercial has made people think twice about that perception by the store itself saying.. "yeah... we had a bunch of old crap.. but now we're all new and updated."
I know I've thought about walking in there to see what the "new" Radio Shack is like. Plus the commecial is fantastic w/ all of the old-school 1980s guest spots... Mary Lou Retton, The California Raisins, Devo, Erik Estrada, Kid n' Play... wow. They rocked that one out. Funny AND effective.
2. Coca Cola - America The Beautiful
This hit a home run. First... it evoked emotion. It caused response. I don't think Coke predicted this kind of response. I know I didn't think that people all over the country would take this beautiful piece of art and slam it for the song being in different languages. America is a melting pot. That's the point. It's a beautiful song. Coke won for being inclusive and the nay-sayers have been called out post haste.
Now, will it cause ME to drink Coke? No. I tried it before and i don't really like the taste.
That brings me to the second big win.. and what I think Coke had in mind when they put this spot together. This ad is about diversity, america, people from all cultures and countries who now make the USA their home. People who might not have had the opportunity to try a Coke in America before. Marketing-wise, they were going after the demographic that was less likely to have had experience trying their product... and by providing a commercial like this... they talk directly to them.. in the universal language of acceptance.
3. Budweiser - A Hero's Welcome
Budweiser did a good job of taking the funny/stupid out of their campaign and also drove home their "Support our Troops" mantra with this mini-documentary of a soldier's homecoming. Every soldier deserves a hero's welcome. If that doesn't make you want to give a Clydesdale a thumbs up.. I don't know what will. This is a brand strengthener ad. Just in case you jumped off the bandwagon to try a craft beer, 'cause that's the thing nowadays, you've not got a reason to grab a Bud. 'Merica!
4. Hyundai Genesis - Dad's Sixth Sense
As a dad... I'm moved by this one. It does, with humor, tackle every parent's thoughts when they allow their kid to do something like operate a car. I will likely never be able to afford this car... much less afford one for one/both of my daughters... but I hadn't taken a second look at a Hyundai for about... well... ever.
I'm not sure if this is an effective ad, though. It makes a good case for people to consider a Hyundai.
I'd be interested in seeing if they have a raise in sales. Time will tell on this one.
5. Cheerios - Gracie
OK, this one is just cute. It doesn't mention Cheerios, they just use the cereal to break the news to little Gracie that she's soon going to be a big sister. Almost like a product placement. I don't know if this one will be a winner in the "selling Cheerios" realm... because there wasn't really anything that made anyone think: "Hey.. I want to go get a bowl for myself." So, win for cuteness and loss for marketing. It was a multi-million dollar "awwww shucks" ad.
BONUS: Turbo Tax - Love Hurts
This isn't a great commercial and, honestly, I didn't remember who it was for until I looked it up. But my name is Sean... and I'm here to steal your holiday... :)