Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Why does Javier get to keep his job?

Who looks worse here: "Joya Williams, 41, is accused of conspiring with two men to sell documents and drink samples belonging to Atlanta-based Coca-Cola....Williams worked for Javier Sanchez Lamelas, vice president for trademarks in Coca-Cola's global brand marketing division. Sanchez testified that there was never a reason for Williams to take the materials home. On cross-examination, he said he didn't think she was smart enough to know what a trade secret was, much less carry out the alleged conspiracy."

He's the VP of Trademarks and his staff may be unclear on the whole trade secret concept? Nice.

Monday, January 29, 2007

In space, no one can hear you inhale

For the first time in a long while, I'm listening to Ron Moore's podcast and: is he smoking during his commentary? Yes? Is there no end to this man's appeal?

But listen. About half-way through -- just as he's discussing the various marriage difficulties portrayed on the show -- his wife enters to ask if he's smoking. Too funny! And: again appealing, as he states that "the smoking lamp is lit."

A handy list of who to blame

I always thought it was children's advertising that made us fat -- I mean, everyone says so -- but according to Micheal Pollan, there's a whole slew of possible culprits, including researchers, journalists, ranchers, government in general and George McGovern in particular. There's not a single mention of the advertising copywriter anywhere. Whew!

Then again, maybe I'm so strung out on Twizzlers that I've focused on the wrong thing here. Because this essay helpfully explains how language, when it comes to food at least, has become so very distorted:

"[G]overnment dietary guidelines would shun plain talk about whole foods, each of which has its trade association on Capitol Hill, and would instead arrive clothed in scientific euphemism and speaking of nutrients, entities that few Americans really understood but that lack powerful lobbies in Washington. This was precisely the tack taken by the National Academy of Sciences when it issued its landmark report on diet and cancer in 1982. Organized nutrient by nutrient in a way guaranteed to offend no food group, it codified the official new dietary language. Industry and media followed suit, and terms like polyunsaturated, cholesterol, monounsaturated, carbohydrate, fiber, polyphenols, amino acids and carotenes soon colonized much of the cultural space previously occupied by the tangible substance formerly known as food. The Age of Nutritionism had arrived. The first thing to understand about nutritionism....it is not a scientific subject but an ideology."

And as we all know, government guidelines are nothing if not potential copy points waiting to be tweaked. The "food industry set about re-engineering thousands of popular food products to contain more of the nutrients that science and government had deemed the good ones and less of the bad....The Year of Eating Oat Bran — also known as 1988 — served as a kind of coming-out party....Oat bran’s moment on the dietary stage didn’t last long, but the pattern had been established, and every few years since then a new oat bran has taken its turn under the marketing lights. (Here comes omega-3!)"

What's not mentioned, of course, is personal preference. Even if claims were reliable and guidelines were trustworthy, the truth is -- deep-down -- yeah we want Cheesy Poofs.

Friday, January 26, 2007

I wouldn't have been inspired to go the comedic route

Ethanol production and its unintended consequences. It all may or may not change anyone's thinking. But a news spoof whose essential message is "Let them eat cake," seems especially cruel.

A man's job, sir.

Edward James Olmos on agreeing to do Battlestar: "we talked about Blade Runner, and I said, 'There was a door that was opened there that nobody ever walked in. Everybody walked through the door of Star Wars, but nobody walked through the door of Blade Runner.' I said, 'If you really want to do that, then I'm game to join up, but I'm going to be very honest: The first four-eyed creature I see, I'll faint. I will faint on camera, and I will be off the show.' I just didn't want to go that route."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Sundance and Davos

Are you like me? Do you constantly get these two momentous events mixed up? Finally, I think I've come up with a way to remember which is which: Sundance gets the serious artists; Davos gets the serious thinkers. And our lives are enriched because of it!

Also, Sundance is the one run by a really old guy.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

"I don't know whether I should watch her or pray to her."

Taken in the right spirit -- which is to say, the spirit in which it's intended -- this post and the ensuing comments could do more for a girl's self-image than a world of Dove ads.

"It looks like the best scenario is to turn the business around"

That's analyst Gabrielle Kivitz -- Deutsche Bank analyst Gabrielle Kivitz -- explaining the options left for Gap now that Paul Pressler is finally leaving.

But who can do it? Who can fight gravity? Who can undo the damage of a dancing dead Audrey Hepburn? The wise and knowledgable commentor Anonymous wonders "if they have called Allen Questrom yet?" Hmm. All signs point to yes. Evidently, the search for an effective fashion-retail executive can be startling similar to hiring just the right NFL head coach.

But for now, I'm wondering if there aren't immediate lessons we can glean from the Gap story. First, this: "After joining Gap, Pressler focused on trimming debt...and buying more merchandise from lower-cost factories." Cheap, though, also has to be fast. As Virginia Postrel has pointed out: "If being stylish means having the look of the moment, fast fashion is truly democratizing style. That creates an uncomfortable situation for businesses and individuals who depend on trendiness to create customer value and maintain personal status." Uncomfortable, indeed.

Second: let's call it the Curse of the Dead Shill. The cabbage-patching cartoon Colonel Sanders, Applebee's Rat Pack and Gap -- see a pattern? So, you know: re-animate corpses at your own risk. Orville?

Monday, January 15, 2007

More things to think about as we wait for June

Tenspotting presents 10 not-so-great things about the iPhone. I'm with 'em on cingular.

Better than schools, murder rate, ability to cope with cold weather

Dallas team uniforms: far from the best but not the worst. Yay!

Channel 4 is on top of this blog thing -- so keep blogging them!

While waiting on the 07 Ice Storm that was not to be, I got all caught up with Channel 4's new initiative: blogging! They're into it! And they're here to help! From the Channel 4 site: "Chip Mahaney tells you how to blog about the North Texas weather event."

Saturday afternoon, when Ron Jackson invited viewers to "keep blogging us," I giggled but gave it little thought. He's a weather guy. What use does he have for blogs? I mean, really? But when newsanchors started showing photos, each one from a "blogger," my brow furrowed. Are these really blogs? Do would-be bloggers really want "exclusives like: Exclusive Local News, Weather, Sports, Traffic, Entertainment Blogs, and your own Blog....thousands of local images, possibly breaking news images! Be part of the action of the best car chase, weather storm, sports event!" Also, are writing tips included?

Oh, I was going to make such fun of this! But then: let he who is without a freebie blog host cast the first stone. I'll only add that before a news channel seeks to promote their own online efforts, it might be a good idea for on-air talent to be familiar with concepts as well as buzzwords.

Friday, January 12, 2007

"If I spill, my life ain't worth a nickel"

Troublesome news for former Hewlett-Packard Ethics Officers. But not suprising. It's always some punk kid that will spoil your Johnny Friendly fun.

Business pages indeed

"Payments to prostitutes," "lurid tales of sex tours and prostitutes" and "accusations of payments to...the former head of the...works council, and his lover" -- automotive news is fun!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Things to think about as we wait for June

From Lev Grossman's iPhone review:

- "When our tools don't work, we tend to blame ourselves, for being too stupid or not reading the manual or having too-fat fingers. 'I think there's almost a belligerence—people are frustrated with their manufactured environment,' says [Apple's lead designer Jonathan] Ive. “We tend to assume the problem is with us, and not with the products we're trying to use.'" Maybe there's a lesson in there somewhere for WalMart.

- "A college dropout, whose biological parents gave him up for adoption, Jobs has presided over four major game-changing product launches: the Apple II, the Macintosh, the iPod, and the iPhone; five if you count the release of Pixar's Toy Story." Which is why even reasonable stuff like this is kinda tiresome. He's not a nice guy -- got it. When's that phone gonna be ready again?

- "One reason there's limited innovation in cell phones generally is that the cell carriers have stiff guidelines that the manufacturers have to follow. They demand that all their handsets work the same way.... Jobs demanded special treatment from his phone service partner, Cingular, and he got it. He even forced Cingular to re-engineer its infrastructure...." Awesome. Do you know anyone who likes their carrier? Anyone?

And the coup de grace:

- "I can’t think of a comparable company that does no—zero—market research with its customers."

It's been forever since we talked about Battlestar Galactica

Since TVTattle made it sound like everybody knew, I followed the link and kept reading past the spoiler alert. I now regret this and strongly recommend you avoid doing the same. Try to find something else to occupy your mind. Here: Six is going to be in Playboy!

Also, have we ever discussed Firefly? Or my theory that NYPDBlue went downhill after Abandando broke it off with Medavoy?

Monday, January 08, 2007

Blogger makes me feel good about me

I love the message "Your blog post published successfully!" It's the exclamation point that makes it seem like such a special achievement. In fact I now wish all my daily tasks were remarked upon in the same manner. "Your teeth were flossed successfully!" "Your car parked successfully!" "Your lack of motivation was concealed successfully!" Wouldn't that be confidence-boosting? Yeah it would!

I'm with Tigger on this one

Not to get all Zapruder on you but watch the kid's arm. What was he grabbing back there?

I eagerly await my next credit card purchase

What will it be?

Friday, January 05, 2007


Does WalMart's energy-saving light bulb remind anyone of, oh I don't know, the Ruby Tuesday low-carb menu? Or am I just being cynical? (Circle cynical.) But: JWT is probably right about Greg Oden.

Just give Pressler his $200 million and call it a day

The real reason I read the NYPost business page? To see what imaginative new way its writers will ravage their chosen targets. John Wren, Marvin Girouard, Ron Perelman -- they're the most elite, perfect whipping boys ever!

But today brings bitter disappointment. Here is Janet Whitman on Gap's situation: "The struggling company posted an 8 percent drop in December same-store sales....The poor performance prompted renewed chatter among some investors that Gap chief Paul Pressler should lose his job." It's like she's just sticking to facts. The hell? Pressler's so incompetent the board's getting involved yet there's not a catty aside or personal attack to be had.

Or maybe I'm just tired of all the retail reporting that gives me dots but no connections. If gift card sales were up -- "The National Retail Federation estimated the average amount spent on gift cards rose to $116.50 from $88 last year" -- and online sales broke records, then what's really going on? Someone's making money somewhere, right? All I'm asking for is a little context. Or failing that, some cheap shots. C'mon!

ADDED: I see the Wall Street Journal, in its small, subscriber-only way, offers dots and some connections. If only they'd work in allegations of "a bog of financial razzle-dazzle," I'd be happy.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

In the future, everyone will be a film-maker for 15 minutes

Of course! The only thing that can save the movie theater is booze: "The lobby contains a restaurant, a bar, and a book-and-gift shop. Before the movie, people hang out and have a drink.... Is this some sort of upper-bourgeois dream of the great good place? A padded cell for wealthy movie nuts? No, it’s an actual multiplex, the ArcLight, on Sunset Boulevard near Vine. The idea of user-friendly theatres may be catching on." Then again, maybe I skimmed past David Denby's most important points.

My question: is there enough alcohol in the world to get through that new Dakota Fanning film?

An acquired taste

So does Alan Richman like the new Gordon Ramsay restaurant or not? How will it affect the new season? And does anyone else -- aside from gossip columnists -- miss Dining Around?

It might be impossibly niche to yearn for the old Food Network shows but I can't help myself. It was, after all, Susan Feniger who taught home cooks everywhere how to flip a pan's contents with the simple, sensible directions: "shove the pan out, towards the camera."

Thank you Boise State

I now know what the Statue of Liberty play is. It IS a happy new year!