Saturday, January 29, 2005

Coca Cola studies: not the real thing

Can sodas really increase risk for type 2 diabetes? A study last fall seemed to excitedly say yes but in this article Steve Milloy claims that Harvard researchers "failed to disclose key contradictory data amid their effort to sow panic about soda consumption."

This leads to a constant complaint of mine: nutritional studies can be beneficial, but media hype isn't. Take the last few weeks. Should we drink nonalcoholic beer because it cured cancer in mice? And if we do, will it counteract the wine we drink to stay smart?

Makes me wish the Harvard researchers and other scientists would pass up press conferences and just stay in their labs until they discover something helpful.

Remembering to say thanks

One of my favorite bookmarked blogs is Iraq Calling, written by "J" a solider in Iraq who also writes a nature-notebook blog Birding Baghdad.

After a year of service in Iraq, J is now in Kuwait and on his way back to the United States. It's fitting, I think, this happens just as Iraqis prepare for free elections.

I'd like to thank J and all who serve and all who have served.

In a post the other day, J wrote: "One day I hope to return, with binoculars but without a weapon." I hope he does too.

Friday, January 28, 2005

They've created a monster

Procter & Gamble is buying Gillette thus creating the mother of all consumer-product companies. A NYTime article observes that the move "reflects just how much the balance of power has giant discount retailers, mainly Wal-Mart." Of course. Gotta mention Wal-Mart. But the company "will also have more power in its negotiations with media companies - television, magazines, newspapers and billboards - to buy billions of dollars a year in advertising." That's what we thought. Here's where a Wal-Mart mention would have been appropriate too. Because Gillette agencies and vendors -- even Gillette employees -- can now look forward to new processes and practices that make P&G the Wal-Mart of advertisers. People will gripe and carp, but those folks in Cincinnati know how to make money.

What next? Mach3-branded Duracel batteries in the Mach3Power? A Braun coffeemaker that also dispenses morning shaves? I await the Pantenization of Gillette's best products.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

What are they trying to teach these kids?

A suburban school district has the bright idea to pay students to turn in their drug-using friends. Principal Randy Spain claims "It encourages them to do the right thing."

While Mr. Spain is offering $50, just down the road in Dallas kids are carrying tens of thousands of dollars in cash from dealers.

Obviously no one can outbid the dealers. And kids who "do the right thing" will do it without the reward, because that's what "doing the right thing" means. So can't Mr. Spain find some other way to spend the school district's money?

Fake outrage over a fake ad?

VW is threatening legal action over a fake ad. Jeff Jarvis offers an alternative approach: "...hold a contest to get people to create the best damned VW commercial anywhere and promise to spend big bucks to air it on, say, the Oscars."

I see the merits, but it could never happen. The fake ad IS funny, but its political overtone presents problems for VW. Is it surprising that a German car manufacturer would want to distance itself from anything too suggestive of a suicide bomber targeting an Isreali street cafe? The moral outrage is an appropriate response from VW. Legal threats and hand-wringing discussions about brand equity, however, may not be helpful. And they bore me.

It's all an interesting contrast to this story about Budwieser, whose agency produced a spot spoofing Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction. After consulting Fox, Bud decided not to air the spot but they've posted it on their site with the tantalizing invitation to "watch the ad you won't see during the big game." (See. They can't even say "Super Bowl" because of offical sponsorship rules. I sometimes loathe my chosen profession.)

At Budwieser, they're just hoping for the kind of attention the fake Polo spot is getting.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Somewhere in between O.J. and Scott

At what point would you say Greta Van Susteren completely gave up her integrity?

More bads news at CBS

Whoa. Remember when CBS primetime programming was doing so well the network could laugh off those expensive make-goods they had to offer advertisers of their news shows? Not anymore.

Could she watch Project Runway?

This and this make me wish Ann Althouse would simulblog all the shows I watch.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Mistakes, I've made a few

A serious business mishap: catalog retailer's chief executive resigned and the company will cease operation for 6 weeks after mailing catalogs to the wrong people -- a list of their least active buyers. How could a mistake like that happen? How do you mail to the wrong database? Weird. The fiasco is pushing out of the catalog business altogether; they’ll be a complete online retailer when they start back up.

A less serious mishap: a GM teaser campaign is spoiled by its own sloppiness as site visitors found the campaign’s mystery slogan contained in the site source code. So instead of a slow, dramatic reveal over weeks, the slogan is now known to all.

From London to here

According to, “Violent crime in the U.K. rose 6 percent in the three months through September, led by an increase in alcohol-fueled offenses and gun crimes, police figures show.”

Three questions: Why would a nation plagued by bar fights extend liquor service to 24 hours a day?

How can a nation that outlaws guns have gun crimes?

Aren't those community video cameras making London safer?

Last night in a Channel 11 news story about gang violence in south Dallas, Police Chief Kunkle said he’d like to see security cameras placed in alleys and other areas to deter crime. I’m a Chief Kunkle fan but his fixation with security cameras is worrisome.

South Dallas criminals will not be scared by cameras. They’re too high on crack to care. Chief Kunkle knows this. With budget and manpower shortfalls, he can’t put more officers in place so this is his answer. The cameras will give the residents the illusion of protection and – the good part for the Chief – they can be funded through private means in the same way Deep Ellum businesses will be asked to pay for their cameras. But after considering UK crime -- or closer to home, Megan Leann Holden, no one can seriously propose cameras as a long-term strategy. Hopefully the Chief sees them as a mere temporary solution until he gets the budget for real officers and real crime-fighting tools. As I've said before, there's no security in security cameras.

Monday, January 24, 2005

A slight programming change

I know I said Wickedly Perfect looked interesting, but really. What was I thinking? The truly riveting reality show is Project Runway. I'm hooked. And this time, I mean it!

An uncomfortable question

After a bizarre start, the Oscar Sanchez kidnapping has now become utterly sad.

At every stop, help was too late by just an hour or so. He was on his cell phone when he was abducted but no one could reach the scene in time. The police raided the house where he was held but the criminals had fled only hours before -- on their way to bury the dead body of Mr. Sanchez.

But one thing bothers me for an ugly, selfish reason: with the FBI on the case and hot on his trail, Sanchez's killer was able to fly out of the country using his own name.

That's not the kind of thing that should happen in these days of Homeland Security. Is it?

Not your father's fundraiser

They're not even 40 years old but Maverick Group members may be the hottest new fundraisers in the Republican Party. And they want more: "'We don't want to have a title and just fundraise when the party needs the money,' says a Maverick. 'We want to be active in the party on policy level, on a finance level. We want a seat at the table and to have a voice.'"

Hmmm. I'd be interested to know what policies they'll pursue. What issues are they energized about? Are they less socially conservative than older Republicans? Or more?

Who ARE those guys?

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Talkin' baseball

I can tell by the look on your face you're waiting for me to comment on Roger Clemens' new contract. The one paying him a record $18 million for one year.

All right then: I approve.

And not just because he's a Texas Ex.

The top ten men of BBCAmerica

When they're not running around in women's clothes, British men can have a certain allure. And when they're not inventing news, the BBC can too. Here then is the best of both, BBCAmerica's sexiest men.

10. Tommy Walsh of Ground Force: tall, blonde and good with power tools. What's not to like?
9. Gordon Whistance of Changing Rooms: charming without being flashy, chic without being outrageous and seemingly comfortable in a variety of settings. He'd either be the perfect boyfriend or a great pair of shoes.
8. Gordon Ramsay of Ramsays Kitchen Nightmare: when not yelling, yummy.
7. Martin Freeman of The Office: the final scene between Tim and Dawn in The Office Christmas special. I'll say no more.
6. Don Gilet of Night Detective: oh yes.
5. Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen of Changing Rooms: an impossible name and a confusing sexual personae do nothing to diminish his charisma. I don't know how this is possible.
4. Roger Moore of The Saint: while the entire male population refuses to acknowledge any James Bond portrayer other than Sean Connery, these reruns demonstrate why Roger Moore once must have seemed a logical -- and preferrable -- successor. Connery was never this good-looking.
3. Alistair Appleton of House Doctor and Cash in the Attic: would have ranked higher if it weren't for the dopey name.
2. Jack Davenport of Coupling: Hugh Grantish good looks and a bright future -- as long as he steers clear of the Hollywood street ho.
1. Handy Andy of Changing Rooms: name says it all.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Who's missing?

Norm Clarke spies "Dallas Cowboys quarterback Vinny Testaverde, with backup Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and tight end Jason Witten on Friday at Il Mulino (Forum Shops at Caesars)."

If you're Drew Henson, have you just become even more bummed about next season?

Plain talk in tough times

Patrick Ruffini surveys the blogosphere's favorite lines from the Inaugural address. No one has mentioned the line that still sticks with me:

"You have seen that life is fragile, and evil is real, and courage triumphs."

It's far less brutal than Churchill's offer of "blood, toil, tears, and sweat," and ultimately hopeful. Which probably makes it just right for our age.

Why didn't Peggy Noonan like the inaugural address?

Answer: "Part of the problem is that Noonan (to paraphrase the Godfather) is not a wartime speechwriter."

Meanwhile back at the ranch

In Las Vegas, they're tackling the tough problems. Like what constitutes improper conduct by strippers: "A handful of strippers cited for inappropriate touching challenged their prosecutions....Municipal Judge Betsy Kolkoski ruled at least five cases should be tossed because the ordinance was vague and unenforceable." Nice use of the word "handful."

Bet those girls didn't have any trouble finding legal representation. Seriously: I doubt they challenged their citations on their own so who wanted the laws nullified and why? Were the clubs simply fighting harassment from law enforcement? Or is this a sign that Vegas clubs really want to be de facto brothels?

From those wonderful folks who brought you A-Rod

The Dallas Morning News reports this morning that Hicks Muse, the buyout firm co-founded by Rangers and Stars owner Tom Hicks, is closing their London office and getting back to their "roots." That's a nice way of saying business ain't good: "After Hicks Muse lost more than a billion dollars...[the firm] realized that its best returns didn't come from its biggest investments."

Guess that's sorta like realizing you aren't getting the best results from your highest-paid players.

Well, maybe they all can borrow some money from Chan Ho Park.

Friday, January 21, 2005

London's calling. They want a drink.

It's becoming obvious that the English can't hold their liquor. The problem of pub fights has become so bad, Coors is supplying plastic glasses to pubs. But the authorities aren't so helpful. They've backed off plans to levy fight-prone establishments to pay for extra law enforcement. So how DO they plan to reduce violence? Written warnings.

All this, by the way, is in preparation for new British laws permitting 24-hour alcohol availability.

Venting is my trademark

I just got Jack Canfield's The Success Principles. Or to be accurate, The Success PrinciplesTM. I think it's going to be a fun and inspirational book, but c'mon. Does EVERY phrase need to be trademarked?


FilmFest Flim Flam

Drudge links to two stories about the Sundance Film Festival: one about Redford's political comments at the opening; the other about the festival's efforts to seperate itself from overcommercialization, or at least over-commercialization wrought by unofficial sponsors. Festival organizers are miffed that brands can avoid contributing to the festival coffers yet can still get in on the swag-o-rama that is the real reason the event is so well-attended.

Meanwhile Page Six gives us this festival description: "At the Motorola Lodge, celebs get free phones, Escada dresses, Kiehl's products and Mercedes loaners. On Main Street, Hewlett-Packard is giving out iPods, cameras, computers and printers. Nearby is the Levi's ranch where jeans, Xboxes and Ray-Bans are doled out. Seven jeans, Swarovski crystal and Cake makeup have a celebrity dressing suite at the Goldener Hirsh Inn...."

I'm sorry to say I'm in no position to judge if this is a wise use of marketing dollars. Of course, the sponsors and their agencies would argue that it is -- in between ogling celebs and filling out their expense reports.

Seen in traffic

Hanging out of a car window: a driver whose arm sported a LiveStrong wristband and whose hand held a cigarette.

Overheard at Bookstop

A man, speaking quite audibly into a cellphone: "Do me a favor OK? Don't mention this to anyone...."

Is anyone watching?

It's common, these days, to see signs in the parking lots of superstores that warn potential criminals about surveillance cameras. And it goes without saying that there are cameras inside most stores as well. That's what makes this tragic story even more disturbing. A Texas WalMart employee was abducted late Wednesday evening, the man responsible turned up in Arizona Friday morning and her body was found shortly thereafter. Now think about this: the abductor shows up on store surveillance cameras, lurking in and out of the store for more than an hour Wednesday night and carrying a duffle bag. The parking lot abduction itself is caught on tape. But it wasn't until the next morning, when the victim failed to show up for class, that the police were called and an investigation started.

In other words, no one was watching what the cameras were picking up. There's no real surveillance at these stores, no prevention -- only the gathering of evidence for a prosecution after the fact. But cameras continue to be touted as a crime prevention tool.

Much was made recently about placing security cameras in Deep Ellum, a popular Dallas nightclub district that has seen business drop off as crime took over. No one here seemed to be aware that for years, surveillance cameras have been used in England. Read London papers for a week or two and decide for yourself if it's really preventing crime.

Or just read about Megan Leann Holden. Her videotaped abduction reveals that surveillance cameras are tools of prosecution but not prevention. They're meant to re-assure employees and business patrons that someone's watching out for them. But that's a lie. There's no security to be found in security cameras.

From the MoDo School of Comedy

Another Corner item: Apparently it's a sign of keen observation to make fun of the Hook 'Em Horns salute seen so often yesterday at the Inaugural Parade.

A defiant attempt to use even the lamest humor to shock and mock the first family? The sad result of geographic isolation? Or lack of respect for Rose Bowl Champions?

The bluest skies you've ever seen

If you complete that headline by singing "...are in Seattle," you're old. Like me. Speaking of Seattle and self-admitted Old Schoolers, The Corner's Jonah Goldberg just linked to this photo. No surprise the event took place in Seattle. Far friendlier a place it was when Bobby Sherman and Joan Blondell lived there.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Alert: morons spotted in Austin

Who wants to solve the school financing mess when you can play nanny? The AP reports: "Texans purchasing beer kegs would be required to register with the state, swearing they are 21 years old and promising not to serve minors, under a new bill filed this week in the Texas House."

Yes, by all means -- creating paperwork for clerks in small carryout stores is just the thing to discourage underage drinking, drunk driving, or public intoxication. Smart!

A whole new world for agency media buyers too

The on-demand consumer as typified by this guy: "The bottom line is this is the new normal. I live everywhere and nowhere. I feel entitled to own any media I encounter. "

A slightly less shallow observation

The most moving sight today was that of Chief Justice Rehnquist -- defying cancer, cold and Lord knows what other burdens -- to administer the oath of office. May God bless him.

The most shallow of observations

1. Wearing white to a January inaugaration is, as Manolo has pointed out, tricky. But I think Mrs. Bush looked genuinely lovely and radiant in her ensemble.

2. Fashion writers for USA Today are elite, effete snobs.

3. It's entirely possible that Shepard Smith wears too much mascara.


"[J]ournalism's elite is convening at Harvard this weekend to agonize over the credibility of the media in the age of the blog -- as though they actually could do anything about it." Another reason why I have this bookmarked.

Classified info on Belo

A really good look at how Belo is reordering the online side of their media company. NotBillable is somewhat astounded that this statement passes for revelation: "...all the growth potential for advertising at newspapers comes from local -- and not national -- advertising." But most of all, we're titillated (yes, that's the word we want to use) by the continuing mystery that is Pegasus.

Stores go shopping

Earlier this week May Department Stores' CEO stepped down. Today there's talk that May might be bought by their competitor Federated. And the driving force behind it all? Why, Wal-Mart of course: "The talks come amid a consolidation drive in the U.S. retailing industry as companies try to reduce costs and gain scale in an effort to compete more effectively with the industry leader, Wal-Mart Stores."

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Good question

Boing Boing asks: Why would American Airlines ask passengers for the names and addresses of friends they're planning to stay with? (My question: Why would the airline think passengers would just hand over that info without complaint?)

They also asked the passenger if his luggage was new or if he was carrying any electronics that had been repaired recently. Do security people suspect that the next person to blow up a plane may do so unwittingly?

Saluting the genius that is HGTV

Newsosaur praises HGTVPro, the newest component of the Scripps media family -- the people who have perfected the art of creating addictive TV programming. I've actually signed up for FoodTV e-newsletters and -- here's the shocker -- read every word. I'm ashamed I never considered what a truly well-executed strategy Scripps has for engaging their viewers. It's really a marvel.

The media and its secrets

Almost 24 hours ago, a kidnapping occurred in Dallas. I'd tell you more, but that's all I know. Newspapers, TV and radio will not release the victim's name (he's rumored to be from a prominent family) and other details, we're told, to help ensure his safety. This blackout has even flummoxed some in the media.

I don't know what to think, but it's interesting when set against media conduct in the Plame affair and in the NYTimes Sarah Boxer Iraqi blogger story. The press, it seems, does have standards. But they change with every story.

Support an accountable mayor, get smeared

Where Robert Wilonksy saw a neo-Nazi conspiracy, Channel 11 sees financial malfeasence in the campaign to change the city's charter and redefine Dallas mayoral powers. Headed by lawyer Beth Ann Blackwood, the campaign seeks to minimize the role of the city manager -- who really runs Dallas -- and give the mayor more hire-and-fire control over the city's most important officials.

Many of those opposing the change like to point out that most of those funding the campaign for change are not technically residents of Dallas. True, quite a few live in the tiny, tony enclave of Highland Park. Never mind that they work in Dallas, raise money for Dallas charities or have businesses in Dallas. Just never mind that. These people have to be denigrated because, apparently, those who oppose charter change cannot argue the issue on its merits. And that petition with thousands of signatures from actual Dallas residents? Well, never mind that too.

I'm not saying don't investigate the finances. Some details seem odd, but are they unprecedented? Channel 11 doesn't say. There's no context. What is odd is that instead of the beginnings of a healthy debate, all we're getting is breathless non-stories seeking to smear the people who support charter change.

UPDATE: This DMN article did shed light on the finances of Beth Ann Blackwood's Strong Mayor campaign. Things do look odd. Blackwood comes off as a little incompetent, her fundraising should be subject to investigation and she's probably a damaged council candidate. All of which makes this move very wise: "Dallas Mayor Laura Miller...officially [filed] paperwork for the 30-member organization she put together to ensure the measure passes. Ms. Miller said the effort would be unrelated to that of lawyer Beth Ann Blackwood." The professionals have taken over. Let's hope this means a real debate about the measure can now begin.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Will Dallas tax internet sales?

It's now the top priority of Dallas city Councilman Ed Oakley to lobby Congress for legislation allowing Dallas to charge sales tax on internet sales.

Is it any wonder our city is considered so anti-business? What a classic, short-sighted pol. Oakley sees online sales shoot up over the holidays, sees predictions for greater online ad buying and all he can think is "how can I get a piece of that?" That he will put all Dallas-based businesses (and citizens) at a unique disadvantage is completely lost on him.

Perhaps Virginia Postrel could teach Oakley about the law of unintended consequences.

Did someone say research?

Today Patrick Ruffini links to this Mort Kondracke piece about new GOP grassroot efforts -- particularly the challenge of building party activism around the complicated issues of social security and tax reform. If you think getting people excited about a candidate is tough, imagine trying to whip up frenzy for economic policies. But I wouldn't count the Republicans out. They know how to reach new voters and they know what motivates these people. How? Research. The Republicans have used the last three years compiling consumer demographic and psychographic research. Kondracke tells us they're still mining that data:

"Under Mehlman, the Republican National Committee likely will not use its precious hard dollars to run TV ads on behalf of Bush's Social Security plan or judicial nominations....The RNC will provide 'research, rapid response, grassroots organization, surrogates - all the things you saw on the campaign' for key agenda items, especially Social Security, judicial appointments and tax reform."

Yes sir, there's a reason research is at the top of Mehlman's list -- it's still paying dividends.

Stop pub riots: choose plastic

Can plastic pint glasses reduce fights in British pubs? Not likely. But Coors is offering the inelegant vessels to owners of violence-prone establishments in an effort to minimize, if not brawls, presumably the slashing injuries caused by brawls. "Senior police chiefs have welcomed the innovation, but have said that more must be done to tackle pub crime." Very vague, that "more" is it not? But I give credit to Coors. Aesthetically displeasing as their idea is, at least they're doing something. That evidently can't be said of British social leaders.

Bubble dress, not bubble head

A new Pierre Cardin interview: "'... now nudity is everywhere, sex is everywhere,' he said. 'We undress men and women, we don't dress them any more.'"

I think this is the most wonderful way of saying society has become coarse without sounding like an old grump. And the article is a good reminder that Cardin is an even more brilliant businessman -- the first couturier to license his name for non-fashion products -- than he is a designer.

Monday, January 17, 2005

No Golden Globe for me

Yes I did in fact opt for the AKC dog show over the Golden Globes award show Sunday night. Why? Because when dogs win, their speeches tend to be more enjoyable.

More crime, but less crime-fighting

Mickey Kaus links to this disturbing St. Louis law enforcement story. Police there are using clever paperwork tricks to underreport crimes, thereby making the city look safer.

Only two days ago, a friend told me that one of his clients was attacked in a Dallas park. The man was beaten and his car was stolen by a group of teenagers. The police caught the group as they tried to drive off in his car. Later a detective visited the man in the hospital and told him that they wouldn't be charging the teenagers or pursuing the investigation further.

I wonder if this is part of the same practice. After all, just the other day our mayor and police chief announced a new get-tough approach to crime. But many are not impressed. On the day of their announcement, four people were gunned down south of town. Crime is a huge problem in Dallas, one that the mayor and at least past police chiefs have failed to address seriously. I would not be surprised if part of "getting tough" means simply picking and choosing which crimes to report.

Red vs. blue, Kmart vs. Nieman's

The CEO of May Department Stores has stepped down after four years of steadily declining sales. Well, at least he was consistent.

Some analysts believe that the company's stores are in a bad position -- occupying an ill-defined middle lane between discount chains and luxury retailers. Is retailing becoming as polarized as politics? I tend to doubt it since May's chief competition Federated actually posted better same-store sales over the holidays. My crackpot theory: May's Lord & Talyor might be selling crap. But it's just a theory.

Sunday, January 16, 2005


Is it obvious yet that I watch a lot of TV? Worse, I'm not ashamed of it. Tonight I'm watching the AKC dog show on The Discovery Channel. The AKC has now switched to a live, two-night format that copies the USA-televised Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. I have to wonder: how many dog shows does the American public really want to watch? Is the The Discovery Channel really peeling off any viewers from Westminster? And most important of all, why can't beagles ever WIN?

Added note: the Discovery Channel's online voting for a Viewers' Choice is an example of great thinking spoiled by poor execution. Why was I looking at stock photos of dogs instead of photos of the actual dog I was voting for?

As if BBC wasn't political enough

If you watch BBCAmerica, you know interior designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowes. Now, on an upcoming BBC show, he will be trained for a new career in politics.

But it's not just another whacky celebrity reality show -- really! This has a noble purpose: "'We chose Laurence because we’re looking to make a programme that would make politics more accessible to the people,' says a BBC spokesman." Hmm, I would think with the BBC coming in for such criticism recently, they'd want to steer clear of the subject. But what do I know?

Meanwhile I assume this means we can look forward to Paula Abdul tackling education policy on the American version next year.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Girl Talk in the NY Times

The always entertaining Ann Althouse revisits the Maureen Down column and the subject of smart, beautiful yet boyfriendless women. Today Althouse asks: "why not think deeply about equality?"

But did Dowd think deeply? Should we even conflate public policy with personal happiness? Equality of the sexes -- if by that you mean equal recognition for equal accomplishment -- is a policy that can do much good in the workplace and academia, for instance. But it can't begin to address the intensely personal aspects of romance. And is feminism even synomous with "equality?" After reading Dowd and the reaction Althouse cited from the college students, I'm not sure. They seem to see feminism as an entitlement to complete personal happiness instead of as the freedom to pursue personal happiness.

I do know that the theme of the virtuous but lonely woman is not new. Ever see The Women -- from 1939? And that's just an example from the past 100 years.

Lastly, that Dowd is now the target of some truly nasty comments may be just the ugly flipside of equality. In a society that chuckles at a book titled "Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot," both men and women will be victims of personal attacks merely for putting forth provocative ideas.

Friday, January 14, 2005

British obits: translator recommended

The McGillycuddy of The Reeks has passed.

Yeah, I didn't know what that meant either.

It's actually an obituary for a person of rather formidable ancestry. Alas, when one has the blood of Gaelic chieftains coursing through one's veins, modern-day life can be problematic. Or as The Telegraph puts it, "Although he could be charming in the appropriate company, he did not relate well to Irish people outside his own class."

A punditry trifecta

"It goes without saying that Leo DiCaprio would rather be seen in Havana than caught dead at Wal-Mart."

It's pithy, accurate AND biting!

What happened to the nice little hostess gift?

Last night on Wickedly Perfect, the group project involved hosting a dinner party and making gift bags for the guests. Today on FoodTV's Party Starters, preparations involved hosting a dinner party and making gift bags for the guests. Now, I do not claim to be up on these sorts of things, but gift bags for guests seems to be an odd new custom for the at-home party.

I'm sure for the people who created both shows and for the stylists employed by both shows, the gift bag is de rigeur at parties -- but then most parties they go to are actually events sponsored by a magazine or a liquor or a record company. It's PR. The gift bag is part of the incentive for the influential, style-setting guests to show up. But at home? Among friends you've just filled with good food and drink? It's too much. I put my untrendy foot down.

Wal-Mart fights back

Yesterday Wal-Mart launched a high-profile campaign to answer their critics. The retailer did more than buy full-page ads in over 100 papers, they trotted out their very poised and likeable CEO Lee Scott. In an interview with Neil Cavuto, Scott said a few things that caught my attention.

First as to what motivated Wal-Mart to undertake this campaign: "Well, for me, in some ways the catalyst was really the Friday after Thanksgiving." That day, Wal-Mart didn't offer the traditional super-saving bargains and they took a beating. Guess that shook 'em up over in Bentonville. Scott thinks that Wal-Mart wasn't "as aggressive as maybe we could have been on that doesn't just apply to merchandise, pricing and other things, it really applies to our outreach and communication with the outside world." They had to be reminded that they're Bargain King and that, in turn, aroused their pride in being Bargain King.

Then this: " we start combining these digital products and they interface with each other, you'll see that represented in Wal-Mart. It's hard for us in our stores to be a leader in technology. Our customer base is not necessarily a leader, an early adopter. But what you see in Wal-Mart today, we're selling plasma TVs, we're selling LCD TVs, we're selling different kinds of PDAs. We're selling a lot of cell phones. And you're going to see us start to integrate that digital media into one place and take a leadership role in that." Hmmm. I'm intrigued. Very intrigued. Even though as a Mac person, it will all exclude me.

Jonathan V. Last likes to watch

Jonathan V. Last at Galley Slaves sure loves a good cat fight. Or is that a Kaus fight? Today he celebrates as Kaus takes a jab at the heads of CNN and BMW. Previously Last was seen in the crowd at the Kaus-Sullivan bout. He even commented on the pre-fight weigh-in.

I bring all this up not to castigate Last. After all, I like to watch too. Maybe Last is just winking at his friends' blogs and making a jest out of the low-mindedness of it all, in which case I've been so low-minded as to not get his joke. But blogs have made both the thoughtful exchange of ideas and the catty back-and-forth of snark happen faster and more publicly, thereby informing and entertaining us all. No reason not to enjoy it.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Not that you asked

But unlike Andrew Sullivan, I like it when Instapundit says "wing wang." Kinda jazzes me.

What do they have against Nancy Grace?

On consecutive days, Nancy Grace is the target of outright snark.

Yesterday it was the New York Observer describing Grace as "the blond, big-eyed, all-nostrils legal analyst, in puffy fur boots with furball tassels and a fur vest, Tammy Faye Baker as Barbarella."

Today, the TV Column's Lisa de Moraes calls her, "that kind-of-scary, cliche-spewing former violent-crimes prosecutor."

Kinda makes me feel sorry for ol' Nancy.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Wilonsky's tinfoil hat is too tight

Robert Wilonsky, best known as Dallas Observer's movie critic, tries to report on Dallas city politics.

That can be tricky in a city where retired councilman Al Lipscomb just compared our Jewish mayor to Hitler.

With sentences like "Maybe Lipscomb's on to something after all," Wilonsky's article was supposed to be clever. Or irreverent. Or insightful. Or ironic. I don't know. All it really did was make me lose lifeforce. But maybe it's me.

How not to run a campaign 101

Bob Shrum will teach at NYU. The jokes really just write themselves, don't they?

One last thing about, well, you know

The Award for the Best Comedic Writing in an Interoffice Email Sent in the Midst of a Scandal goes to...Gil Schwartz for this:

"We need two things: 1. We need our expert available NOW to speak to all those who are reporting this story. We need the expert. Now. We need him now. 2. We need the talking points that can be crafted into a statement of defense and talked about by Dan when he calls people. #1 is essential RIGHT NOW. We NEED THAT EXPERT. [W]ithout him, we’re TOAST. Then we need #2, about six seconds later."

I wanna read this guy's blog NOW if he writes one. I want to read his blog. Now. I want to read it now.

Emo-anchors vs. irrelevant anchors

Thinking further on two items I linked to today, I noticed a pretty startling contrast between Jonathan Klein's love for the emo-anchor who tells a story and Terry L. Heaton's prediction that "the anchor role at local stations will continue to diminish, as more people turn to the Internet for 'anchor' to read copy is irrelevant..."

Marketing as conversation

In light of the last post, this quote seemed appropriate: "Mass marketing will continue to erode and marketing as conversation will continue to grow." Other fascinating media predictions here.

Food porn PR

Instapundit links to this Daniel Drezner tribute to Hardee's Monster Thickburger. After discussing Hardee's in-your-face approach to marketing the 1420-calorie burger, Drezner asks, "Does the blunt salesmanship make you more likely or less likely to go to a Hardee's and order a Monster Thickburger?"

To order, no. To go to a Hardee's, yes. And that's the point. The Monster's like a down-market version of the $10,000 diamond martini offered by the Algonquin -- not many people are actually going to order it, but just having it on the menu generates a lot of fun PR that in itself attracts potential consumers. As proven by the posts in Drezner's comment section.

An odd coupling

Scrolling through headlines just now, I first saw "Woman 'tore off ex-lover's testicle'" immediately followed by "Domestic violence laws fuel big government." Wow. That was a fast response.

A new word that I hate

is "emo-anchor" which is alarmingly defined by Jonathan Klein as "'a guy who just felt the tsunami story in his bones, not as a journalist even. It wasn’t a professional curiosity he had, it was a human connection to the suffering. He’s that kind of guy.'"

You know, just like William Hurt and the date-rape victim in Broadcast News!

(I know, I know -- 2 Broadcast News references in 2 days is 2 much. Then again, some people understand the power of 2.)

Spirits soar, beer goes flat

While sales for hard liquor inch up, the market share for beer has dropped.

Odd isn't it? Even though brewing companies are allowed to advertise on TV, people are buying less of it and turning to spirits, which do not advertise on TV.

Could it be that marketers of spirits -- having been regulated out of the mass advertising arena of TV -- have become the more effective advertisers? Research and under-the-radar strategies, including targeting younger drinkers exactly where they drink (bars, clubs), seem to be paying off.

The USAToday article also quotes Smith Barney Citicorp analyst Bonnie Herzog: '"We believe there is an overall image crisis with beer.'" Oh really? Ya mean that Coors "I love twins" concept isn't giving beer an upscale image? Shocking.

Look, brewers still have 56% of the market and they must know who they're talking to. But I'm just old enough to remember the Lowenbrau campaign from the mid-70s that made the beer look sexy, not just the women in the commercial. Could one advertiser -- just one -- please give us a break from barely clad hotties and slovenly Gen Y guys to make beer look appealing instead of like something that will just make me puking drunk? And those exercise-and-sex TV spots for your low-carb brands don't count.

I'm not saying it will get back your market share, but hell. It can't hurt.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

What IS the frequency?

Dan Rather's comments remind me of a movie scene. What was it? Oh yes, this:

Bill Rorich: This is a brutal layoff. And all because they couldn't program Wednesday nights.
Paul Moore: You can make it less brutal by knocking a million or so off your salary... Bad joke, I'm sorry

The wrinkle creams of the insect control industry

Ah, the remarkable resilience of the cockroach.

I once worked on a pesticide account. Unglamorous, yes. But I learned a ton of useful information. For instance, there are certain products I'd never, ever use: foggers, flea collars and those mosquito-spray trucks cities like to roll out every summer. They never have worked. They never will work. Accept it.

The terrorist next door

The British don't like our Guantanamo Bay way of dealing with terrorists. They have a much better solution. They give terrorists new homes in Manchester.

MemoGate, ad revenue and ratings

While Della Femina wasted our time, Frank Ahrens at the Washington Post was researching how MemoGate affected ad revenue at CBS. The scandal did indeed damage ratings for third-place CBS Evening News, but no matter. CBS primetime fare is #1 and rakes in the profits.

In fact, the article tells us, CBS Evening News only brings in 10% of total ad revenue for the news division. 60 Minutes must be the real news moneymaker -- so CBS can't be happy Mapes' report aired on a 60 Minutes-branded show.

Ahrens talked to an agency media buyer who revealed that "'CBS 'Evening News' and other CBS News programs had to give advertisers more commercial time to make up for lost audience numbers that are guaranteed in contracts."

So to re-cap, Mapes and Rather air a seriously flawed story on a primetime news show that shares a title with a long-respected brand. When questions arise, they stonewall, driving viewers away from ANOTHER show, CBS News Evening News, and the network is forced to offer costly "make-goods" to advertisers on ALL news shows.

If you were a network executive, you have to ask: why have a news division? Especially one that bleeds money AND causes a PR meltdown? No wonder then, that "'some people feel like CBS News could be out of business in five years.'" That's the real legacy of Mapes and Rather.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Missed opportunity

Just caught the Neil Cavuto re-broadcast and an interesting point was made: MemoGate has cost CBS News zero advertisers. No one pulled their ads despite the shoddy reporting or sagging ratings. First guest: famed ad guru Jerry Della Femina. Now, Della Femina is a legend -- probably a hoot to talk to when you're at a party in the Hamptons. But today he had a big bag of nothing. He added absolutely zilch to the discussion and that's a shame. A media person from a major agency might not have had the name recognition but could have spit out numbers and insight. It could have been so good.

Oh well. Maybe next time.

Dave Letterman = Don Imus

They're decades past being actually funny but remain popular out of...what?...habit?

A&E perfects an idea

The one time I watched Airline -- A&E's show that follows Southwest Airlines staffers at work -- I found it every bit as stressful and unpleasant as actually being in an airport. I couldn't watch a minute more. But Caesars 24/7 is different. It follows casino staffers and guests on a typical day and night in Caesars Palace. So it can be as seedy and pathetic and fun and charming as being in Vegas. Although sadly, the first 2 minutes of tonight's episode revealed the complete Paris Hilton-ization of American youth.

My favorite new word

is upconvert. Because, face it, re-purpose is so 2004.

Word to Mary Mapes: timing is everything

TKS has Mary Mapes' written response to the CBS report. In it, she states, "all that the panel did conclude was that there were many red flags that counseled against going to air quickly. I never had control of the timing of any airing of a 60 Minutes segment...."

But on page 58, Mapes emails her partner Michael Smith in MID-JUNE that "The piece (if I get it) will run in early September."

She may not have had control of the timing, but she knew about it well in advance.

MemoGate's mystery man

First The FrontBurner then Hugh Hewitt asks: Who is Michael Smith? According to the CBS Report it was Smith who worked with Mary Mapes on the story. And as Powerline has pointed out, it's Smith's emails to Mapes that are truly curious.

Was it Smith who set the whole debacle in motion with this July 23 email to Mapes:"I am close to something that the Bushies are worried about..."?

Smith is not an easily Googled name, so we fervently hope that someone digs this guy up soon -- at which point we expect it to be revealed once and for all that Michael Smith was really...a Karl Rove plant!

The pressure of being us

Dallas' best newscaster Tracy Rowlett interviews CBS' Bob Schieffer. Now that CBS has released its Memogate investigation, it's interesting to read Schieffer's comments on the matter. Even though his answers are often so charmingly worded as to contain not one single substantive statement, Schieffer does emphasize the competitive pressure to get a story first:

"(Dan Rather) is just driven to get the story before the guys at the other organizations get it"

"I think what drive most reporters is to get the story first and get it right before their competitors get it."

This meshes nicely with this: "The network's drive to be the first to break a story about Bush's National Guard service was a key reason it produced a story that was neither fair nor accurate and did not meet CBS News' internal standards, the investigators said."

The interview was likely conducted a month ago so was Schieffer laying some spin groundwork? Who knows? But the claim from him and from Les Moonves's memo is identical: there's no laziness or political bias at CBS. Just a lot of poor people coping with so much pressure. Cut 'em some slack. And move along.

Drink up. It's McCafe

McDonalds is about to introduce premium coffee. The goal is not to compete with Starbucks: "McDonald's will likely take on 7-Eleven, says Ted Lingle, executive director of the Specialty Coffee Association of America. It will boost breakfast sales, too, he says." And the target consumer is young mothers.

This is genius. Yes, 7-Eleven boosted business with their self-serve gourmet coffee. But 7-Eleven cannot offer what the young mother truly appreciates: a drive-thru window that takes credit cards. No-brainer conclusion: there's about to be a zillion Happy Meals sold right along with mom's coffee.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

New meaning to "Department of Corrections"

In this month's D Magazine Corrections:

"Richard Buch, listed as one of the Best Doctors in Dallas, is currently on probation for soliciting prostitution, and it was not his first offense. He should not have made the list. We deeply regret the error."

Friday, January 07, 2005

A millionaire has to look out for himself

Boston's firstbaseman Doug Mienkiewicz won't give back the baseball that he caught to make the final out of the World Series. He is calling the ball his "retirement plan" saying, "I know this ball has a lot of sentimental value.... But I can be bought. I'm thinking, there's four years at Florida State for one of my kids at least."

Batting just .238, Doug Mienkiewicz made $2.8 million dollars last year.

Ass clowns and advertising

Fox rejects a Super Bowl spot that shows Mickey Rooney's bare bottom. On behalf of a relieved nation, thank you Fox.

The angle here is "look at the censorship Janet has wrought." But I think the more interesting issue is whether or not the TV spot in question had anything more going for it than an old guy's naked ass. It did not, as evidenced by the reaction of the advertiser who has sent a letter to the FCC urging them to order Fox to air the spot. (Now THAT'S laughable.) Clearly the spot must be built around the ass shot and without it, it's a forgettable 15 seconds. That should be the advertiser's first clue that he has been ill-served by his agency. But then again maybe they're just enablers. He was actually planning "to pay $1.2 million, 10% of the Carmel, Calif.-based company's annual ad budget."

One tenth of a year's ad budget spent in 15 seconds. Hmmm. I don't wanna ever go into business with THAT guy.

A pay day for Mapes?

After CBS releases its report, what will happen to any employees who do lose their jobs? The focus has of course been on Mary Mapes, the Dallas-based producer who had been working on the story for years. Back when the documents were first exposed as fakes, Ellisblog had a lot of advice for Mapes, mainly of the "get a good lawyer" type. So the question is: if the CBS report pinpoints Mapes as the big, solitary scapegoat, is it really a sign that she took a huge cash settlement to move on and shut up? We'll see when and if Mapes pens any tell-all exposes.

UPDATE: First, Jonathan V. Last, who sometimes makes us sad by using his blog to, um, bash bloggers, also wonders about non-disclosure agreements for fired CBS employees. And the blog formerly known as The Kerry Spot now speculates that the CBS report is not coming out today. Sigh.

What will CBS say?

Today is the day CBS is expected to release their RatherGate report. Powerline is not hopeful. Neither am I.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Wicked and Imperfect

I have no pride. I watched Wickedly Perfect, the reality show that will give us a new domestic diva.

Early impression: the format is frustrating since we really don't get a sense for each contestant's individual style -- yet it's their style and innate good taste that we're all supposed to be clamoring for, right? The focus is predictably on personal bitchiness and tonight the men were made to look the bitchiest. Save for Darlene, who is clearly being set up as the contestant we will love to hate.

Early prediction: my money's on Denise because 1) she has Martha's hair 2) when asked to list her favorite foods, she charmingly includes "Shake N Bake Pork Chops and any and all Hostess products," and 3) she's a former advertising copy writer and those people are brilliant. Brilliant, I tell ya!

Exit polls cont'd

Exit poll intrigue continues to be discussed at Mystery Pollster, who throws in a gratuitous swipe at Woody Hayes that chilled us to the bone, born Buckeye fans that we are.

Gerson goes

The President's speechwriter Michael Gerson is being replaced by WSJ writer William McGurn. What a shame, as I have always thought Gerson's speeches were beautiful works built on the language of our forefathers and the Bible, among other sources.

But of course, the media could only fixate on the Biblical references:

"His trademark has been the religious language and Biblical references that populate Bush's speeches. To those who believe the president uses his speeches to send signals to conservative evangelicals, Gerson is the master of the code."

For God's sake. Pun intended. "Those who believe" may be purposefully vague, but it's plain to anyone who watches TV pundits that this is the position of the media. The President might as well be speaking in tongues -- that's how extreme and alien Biblical references seem to these people. Biblical verse is not code. And in this country, Christianity is not a secret society. No matter what your faith, the language of a Gerson speech reflects a heritage every American shares. It should be celebrated as such instead of being treated with suspicion. Or worse.

UPDATE: Ramesh Ponnuru has a brief yet more informative look at McGurn's background here.

Radio talk

In Dallas, if you're an advertiser wanting to target men, you buy time on the Ticket. It's categorized as a sports-talk radio station but is in fact a Howard Stern-meets-sports-talk formula. It's pure guy stuff -- genitalia jokes aplenty! -- but also genuinely hilarious. "The Ticket" name has since been copied and copied and copied in other markets. The formula less successfully so. Until now maybe. In Las Vegas, Spike TV is launching Spike Radio, a format that "'covers everything interesting to men and women who want to understand men.'"

"'We said, "If you mixed hot-talk and sports together, what would you get?'"The name that came out was Spike. That's how (Spike 1140 AM: Radio for Men) happened.'"

Actually, what you'd get is The Ticket in Dallas. Maybe not since MSNBC has someone so artfully stolen a format, re-named it, and created a lot of hype by claiming it's a display of all-new synergy and branding. And while ESPN, Fox and Stern may be formidable national brands that translate into radio programming, I was unaware that Spike TV really had such a following. We anxiously await the next ratings book!

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Usonian but u can't sell it

Apparently it's getting harder and harder to sell a Frank Lloyd Wright home. Especially if it's a Usonian home built when the architect was "focused on more modest homes for families on a budget." The problem? According to experts it could be remote locations or lack of luxurious touches like big bathrooms. But what about price? Owners of these "modest homes" are now asking $350,000 to over a million.

Sure this is Frank Lloyd Wright, but aren't these homes a little like the Michael Graves products at Target -- beautiful and enjoyable as long as the price point is kept reasonable?

The problem may be that the homeowners acted as art investors. They're not families "on a budget." Indeed, one owner has never even lived in her FLW house. They think of the structures as works of art to be preserved forever. Fine. But someone eventually has to make a home in these structures and part of the artist's intention was affordability, was it not? That was something these people seemed to have overlooked, and overlook still as they hold out -- for years -- until they get their price. I have no doubt that someone will buy up these homes. But in the mean time, the frustrated sellers don't have my sympathy. They love art, but they love the thought of a grand payoff more.

The advantages of being low-brow

First Andrew Sullivan mentioned it, then Jonah Goldberg and Virginia Postrel were shocked by it. The late Susan Sontag and world-famous photographer Annie Leibowitz were a couple.

Actually, they may have been a family.

Back in October of 2001, Leibovitz gave birth to a daughter (scroll down to second item). Which makes this comment a little more interesting.

But while NYTimes readers might be surprised by all this, Page Six readers aren't. I could have sworn I read about Sontag-Leibovitz several times in the Post. Unfortunately a search turned up only articles I'd have to pay to read, but I think I'm right: this time the low-brow Post was more forthright and informational than the Times.

Will CBS mirror CJR?

For days now, people having been ripping apart Corey Pein's RatherGate article in CJR. It seems fitting that Hindrocket offers up the complete evisceration of Pein. But my worry is this: what if the Pein article is just the trial balloon for the internal CBS investigation? What if the investigation is shocking only in its continuance of the whitewash? What then?

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

When research breaks down

I continue to be fascinated by the role of research in elections. While the Bush-Cheney campaign was a model of crack consumer research, it seems the exit pool data provided by the National Election Pool was just a crock. Only a few people (Mickey Kaus, Mystery Pollster, statistics majors) have the patience and brains to scan the numbers and figure it all out. Thank goodness some of them have blogs.

UPDATE: There's more in Mystery Pollster's comments section here and in this follow-up post that even touches on the other part of this intrigue -- media stonewalling.

The American musical and its unlikely fans

When I say "I love musicals," all the men in the room start to look around for something to read. So I don't discuss it much. And when I say "musicals" I mean movies. I was born too late and too far west to see the original Broadway productions which must have been heroic. Imagine: feel-good musicals as a cultural must-see, not mere cable fare for girly girls. In the past few years, I've become obsessed with buying original Broadway cast recordings. Why? Because of a man. Because of Blackie Sherrod, the crusty he-man Texas sportswriter whose life defines the term "old school." In an article written fifty years after the fact, Sherrod vividly described what it was like to be so cool and connected as to be in the audience for the original run of Guys & Dolls. So I had to check it out. Robert Alda IS great, just like Sherrod said he was, especially if all you've been exposed to is the Marlon Brando movie version. Likewise, when George Will movingly wrote about attending an Oklahoma! revival on Broadway just 3 years ago, I went out and bought the original track of that one too. And I have to say Alfred Drake is preferable to the otherwise pleasant Gordon MacRea. Peculiar. My love of the great American musical was only half-developed until I started to read sports columns and political commentary. Written by men.

Is it art?

Or just a conspicuous display of personal wealth?

So young, yet so wise

You'd expect advice this good from someone far older. Alas, no. Because it's the older Republicans who are looking for the nearest TV camera, book deal or committee compromise.

"Now is not the time to rekindle the paralyzing '90s-era intra-party debate on social issues. The dynamics of these issues are such that for every vote we'd gain on the left, we'd lose several points in turnout on the right. It's particularly senseless coming after an election where George W. Bush successfully bridged the divide between conservative and moderate Republicans.

"The linchpin of continued Republican dominance in American politics remains the war on terrorism."

Monday, January 03, 2005

What to wear to a christening

This wouldn't have been my answer. Which is why my photo never appears in the Post. In case you were wondering.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Clearly this is the dumbest franchise name of all time. It sounds like what it is: an attempt to satisfy some legal fine print (a lease with the city of Anaheim) while sucking up to the population of a larger, wealthier market. But a team should never be named after a marketing plan.

Hey, thanks!

Patrick Ruffini gives a pep talk to new bloggers. And although he hints that specialization is key to success -- specialization is frowned upon here at NotBillable where dilettantism is king! -- we appreciate any and all encouragement!

"It's been a long year, and I want to go home."

The last NFL regular season game was a match-up no one cared about. But if you watched it, you know that East Coast media still worships the Tuna. Here in Dallas, not so much.

UPDATE: An alternative, non-registration required article here.

Fastest recorded smackdown

is this Ramesh Ponnuru post about Christine Todd Whitman's new book. Somehow I doubt that his argument will be considered by anyone at the Today Show, 60 Minutes or Good Morning America.

You mean I could be watching TV right now?

TiVo introduces TiVoToGo -- so we can transfer recorded shows to our laptops. Ah, the future is a beautiful thing, is it not?

Catholic school controversy

A California parents group wants to prevent children of a gay couple from enrolling at a private Catholic school. On the one hand, this is sad -- why punish the children? And as the superintendent points out, "if Catholic beliefs were strictly adhered to, then children whose parents divorced, used birth control or married outside the church would also have to be banned."

On the other hand, the parents "are worried the boys' attendance ... is part of a larger effort by the gay community to change the church." The article doesn't tell us what this "larger effort" is. But could this be more fallout from the priest sex scandal of a few years ago? Could it be these parents are still bitter that the homosexual component of the scandal was seemingly glossed over, and this has made them hyper-sensitive to issues of homosexuality? Or could it be that they simply want to be sure their private school is free from the gay awareness efforts seen in public schools? And does asking these questions make me anti-gay? (Because I'm not.)

But I do think two things are at work: when any institution fails to deal honestly and decisively with an unpleasant issue, it just continues to cause problems. And two, parents don't like being ignored. The Church, like many school districts, can well expect these mini-controversies to continue.

It's here!

Ellisblog's Best and Worst has arrived.
Best Part: Tie: the richly deserved recognition of Merrell's as the best shoes ever, and the upset victory of Ken Mehlman as Best Political Operative when most Vegas sportsbooks had Karl Rove as the overwhelming favorite.
Worst Part: There are no worsts.