Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I am no longer in favor of saving the environment

At least not the part of the environment that includes bees, crickets or rabid bats.

If everyone knows how to fix Gap then the new CEO should have an easy time of it

Gap's new CEO doesn't have a fashion retail background but I don't think that's a problem. An hour of Googling should give him all the solutions he needs. Really, everyone has an opinion about what went wrong. Everyone has an opinion about what will make it right.

Even Jezebel has offered advice: "Stop paying celebrities whose careers so distinctly encapsulate your precise brand of we-can't-even-believe-we're -still-doing-this desperation." But apparently that one's gonna be tough. According to today's Page Six: "John Mayer is...one of the many new faces of Gap. The newly single musician was shot by Annie Leibovitz for the 'Classics Redefined' campaign, along with Forest Whitaker, Liev Schreiber, Lucy Liu and Selma Blair."

I don't know. I'm beginning to think that if everyone thinks they know the answer, there is no answer. Too cynical?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

At long last, my thoughts on Rachael Ray's new set

Kinda hatin' it. I get that she's mega-famous now -- Gawker detests her so she must be -- but the revamped 30-Minute Meals is simply a little too orange. It's not just the cabinets. It's the orange-handled Rachael Ray cookware and the orange-handled Rachael Ray knives that, for me, put it over the top. Also: good-bye video, hello production values.

The thing that has always been engaging about Ray is that she's quirky and unpolished. This is the show that launched her. So to supply 30-Minute Meals with new cabinets, better camera work or any kind of obvious sophistication seems to miss the point. O! She's not our funny little FHM girl any more!

And yeah. I know. Anthony Bourdain hates her too. Why can't all my little TV chef friends get along?

If a guy's gonna jump, why would he wait until eod Friday?

Did you get caught in downtown gridlock yesterday? Did you tune into 1080 to find out what was going on? Did you realize, after about the 5th time the traffic reporter referred to it as "police activity," that this had to be a suicide situation -- "Traffic was delayed during rush hour in downtown Dallas as a man threatened to jump from the top of a 14-story building. Authorities restricted access to the area between Pearl Street, Central Expressway, Harwood Street and San Jacinto Street in the late afternoon while they tried to talk the 40-year-old man down."

I don't understand this particular news reporting policy -- that unless a suicide attempt is thwarted, we can't be told about jumpers because it would only encourage copycats. Seems infantilizing. And for me, when I could clearly see all the police and ambulances but could find no explanation, it caused a bit of a panic. Bomb scare? Gas cylinders? Threats to a visiting politician? Yes, much better to let everyone guess than to tell us that it was one unarmed guy on a roof.

Something that can be reported with all certainty though is this: DART bus drivers are the biggest assholes in all the world.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Are you up? I'm up. Way up.

Didn't Titleist just get done telling everyone to "man up" during the British Open? I could have sworn they did because I kept thinking: riiiight. Now, though, SMU demands that we "pony up" in a new promotion that promises to "create a buzz and get everyone on board" for football.

SMU football.

Oh it'll work, too. It's from The Richards Group and they are, I remind you, "the best in North Texas."

So go ahead. Get ready. Get up.

ADDED: Are "man up" and "pony up" commands or are they declarative sentences? And does it matter?

If you're going to make fun of Pantene ads, count me in

Yesterday I bought some Sunsilk shampoo -- ThermaShine, since its purple bottle is the least putrid color in the Sunsilk product line -- solely because of this spot. I have no idea if I'll like the product. The fragrance isn't anything special. Still, I felt it was important to honor this effort to introduce genuine humor to the beauty category. I mean really: did anyone ever laugh at Julia Louis Dreyfuss' Clairol spots or the Herbal Essences organic/orgasmic series? (Hint: No.) "Gorgeous, full hair comes with responsibilites" is a damn funny line.

But here's something interesting. Sunsilk is a Unilever brand. The humor and the tone here is sorta kinda similar to that used by Unilever's Axe. Although unlike Axe, this target is obviously female -- "the 25-year-old single woman who is in a so-called quarter-life crisis." Also unlike Axe, Sunsilk doesn't have its own Urban Dictionary entries. Oh wait. I hadn't realized the Urban Dictionary is as viable a marketing tool as Wikipedia!

Of course Dove is another Unilever brand. Dove has never tried to make anyone laugh out loud because, after all, they have an Important Worldwide Message to convey. Since their target includes older women -- even women who've survived both quarter-life and third-life crises -- it makes me wonder: does Unilever have formalized theories about humor, how best to employ it and who exactly responds to it? Does Unilever believe if you're older than 30, you're done laughing? What's wrong with me? Should I get serious and return my ThermaShine?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The women of Grand Prairie surprise me. Sorta.

Harley-Davidson's efforts to sell to women -- potted plants! purdy t-shirts! -- makes for fun reading. But I would have loved to know how male Harley owners feel about it. Can you still feel like a rebel when there's a child's play area in the dealership?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Remember: no one plans to fail

They only fail to plan and that's why you must start shopping for your Halloween decorations right now. Today. C'mon! If you wait, all the new SpookyTown miniatures will be sold out! And you know the saying: a truly great display just doesn't happen overnight.

The Katrina Cottage

You can buy the blueprints at Lowe's, where they desperately need to play up the design story a bit more.

What hairspray was used on the set of Hairspray?

The world now knows it was "Sebastian Professionals' limited edition Ultra Clutch ($13 at salons)." Aren't you disappointed that it wasn't Aqua Net?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I've been called a lot of things in my time

Blogger thinks this is a spam blog so they've added word verification to the posting process. Spam! They really know how to hurt a girl.

ADDED: The update from Blogger: "Your blog has been reviewed, verified, and cleared for regular use so that it will no longer appear as potential spam." Do I get a badge? I should get a badge if I'm "cleared." I really want a badge because, gosh darn it, lanyards are cool.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Buy a back cover ad, get a front cover for free

I can't work up any outrage for Jezebel's Redbook cover expose -- yes, an unPhotoShopped Faith Hill is still gorgeous; now explain again how it relates to the war in Iraq -- but their Elle post is quite funny. No wonder September's issue will be filled with "398 ad pages." Can't wait!

When is it OK to, you know, fake it?

Gwen Stefani "has sued Forever 21, claiming the fast-fashion retailer has knocked off designs from her Harajuku Lovers clothing line." But copyright laws for fashion are iffy so this may not send any shock waves through the fake Prada purse trade out on Harry Hines Avenue. The things they do with vinyl!

Anyway, the whole subject of knock-offs confuses me. Fashionista -- with their recurring feature "Adventures in Copyrights" -- abhors the knock-off. (Yet, they're wild about those poorly constructed Target Proenza dresses.) When you wear a designer knock-off, can it ever be an homage -- simply a reluctant admission that you have more enthusiasm than money -- or is it just tacky, tacky, tacky? I can't tell because a retailer like Zara seems to bring real art to the knock-off: "It takes up to a year for fashion houses to launch a catwalk collection but Zara can sell expensive-looking, affordable copies of the hottest trends within weeks of their debut. Zara's limited lines appeal to shoppers who buy luxury look-alike clothes and mix high and low fashion."

So that's it. You have to wear your knock-offs knowingly. Otherwise, you're just Andy Sachs in a cerulean sweater.

Maybe the original knock-off genius, though, was Stanley Marcus. He introduced the Neiman Marcus Awards for fashion nearly 70 years ago and awarded it to, among others, Coco Chanel and Christian Dior even though Neiman Marcus never sold those couture lines. They sold copies of those couture lines. The award show was an illusion, a brilliant way for Neiman Marcus to link its name to leading designers. No one got sued. Everyone got famous. And all the Dallas ladies felt beautiful.

Monday, July 16, 2007

"It's focusing on what people want to know, not what stars want people to know"

It's as if Chelsea Handler prepared for her new show, in part, by reading Grant McCracken. And -- bonus! -- Camille Paglia offers advice: "The audience becomes unnerved if the woman is too sharp and shrewish."

Meanwhile, is there anything you'd like to know about Handler?

"The Car Man." Because it's based on "Carmen." Get it?

A new London dance production: "'The Car Man' is to 'Carmen' not quite what 'West Side Story' was to 'Romeo and Juliet.'" OK. So is it better than Carmen Jones? A "lot of beer is drunk, there's a lot of sex and fighting. Bourne is good at translating all of that into thrilling dance that owes much to choreographers Jerome Robbins and Twyla Tharp, while it remains somehow entirely his own." I'm interested.

ADDED: "The Car Man" video clip. One part "So You Think You Can Dance," two parts "Go Greased Lightning."

Paying for your trip to the Dallas Barbie convention

Following a time-honored tradition, Barbie conventioneers are back home and hawking their souvenirs on eBay. But do we even like the Dallas Darlin' Barbie? Disappointments: the cowboy hat, a brunette version and that center cutout cleavage thing which, along with the lasso, takes Barbie in a new and disturbing direction (must be Bill Greening's idea of "whimsy"). On the plus side: rooted eyelashes!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Just when you think you're over him, Ronald D Moore walks back into your life

The Battlestar Galactica movie preview.

Airport Book Signings

It's a brilliant way to promote a paperback, isn't it? I've already read Will Clarke's The Worthy and thought it was a lot of fun -- even sweet at times. Although Sigma Chis may not agree.

Friday, July 13, 2007

What cheers me up while I wait for the next Johnny Depp movie?

Rick Schroder news of course. And don't come at me with your "Champ! Champ!" jokes. Danny Sorenson was solid grown-up entertainment.

Evidently back-to-school shopping begins some time before school lets out for summer

Does this intro make sense to you: "Consumers were eager to buy iPhones and flat-screen TVs in June, but their reluctance to purchase clothing and other non-essentials has retailers worried about the success of the back-to-school shopping season. As merchants reported their generally modest sales gains Thursday, it was clear that consumers' uneasiness about higher good and gas prices and the weakening housing market was forcing many of them to think twice before spending."

So: strong sales in big-ticket electronics is now a sign of widespread panic. Got it. And consumer confidence is low because gas prices are so high. Understood. Although? It seems like the price of gas has been the default summer news story for years so it would be nice -- just this once -- if someone could update the boilerplate copy to include a mention of grocery prices. Oh, thank you, Mr Leubsdorf! Wait a minute. The cost of food (even movie popcorn) is up partly because of ethanol. And Wal-Mart's numbers are up partly because "grocery sales were stronger than general merchandise sales in June." Are earth-friendly alternative fuels creating a boon for WalMart? Couldn't be! That wasn't part of the plan, was it?

And look: WalMart sales of "flat panel televisions, MP3 players, video game hardware and accessories, laptops and desktop computers...had 'significant' year-over-year gains." Oh my God. Even WalMart shoppers are buying flatscreens. Our economy is doomed!

OK, he was totally wrong to defend that haircut

"Kooky" is how the NYPost describes Whole Foods CEO John Mackey -- of course anyone who comments online using a made-up name can't be trusted-- but isn't that a little harsh? I mean, he's a vegan! He cares about the environment! And even if he did say all those things to the libertarians and should have been eased out a year ago because of it, that new super store on Preston Road is totally awesome, right?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Will you like David Lynch's Procter & Gamble commercial better than Drew Barrymore's Procter & Gamble commercial?

From Defamer: "David Lynch makes no secret of how he feels about the encroachment of corporate interests upon his stubbornly abstruse cinematic meditations....That isn't to say that he's above whoring himself out for the occasional contract work, however, as he has agreed to direct a TV spot for a new Gucci perfume."

The confusing part? P&G owns Gucci Fragrance. They also own CoverGirl. CoverGirl recently named Drew Barrymore as their celebrity endorser and she'll direct her own spots. Barrymore has also just been chosen as the model for a line of jewelry. By Gucci. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Yes! The next Gucci menswear model is all too obvious!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Self-conscious Borders purchases

It's odd for a middle-aged woman to buy The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn Iggulden -- I know that -- so I got an Elle magazine along with a couple of home dec titles just to reassure everyone. Feminine offsets if you will. It was Iggulden's Famous Battles page that sold me, although the cover is quite nice too: a combination of my grandmother's Games For All Occasions and old Collier's Encyclopedias. Already the Five Knots Every Boy Should Know page has proven quite useful.

Unfortunately I cannot say the same for the women's magazines. Elle's music issue is, wow, largely useless both as a fashion/beauty authority and a music overview. (Possible exception: if your record-producer husband violates the few rules of your open-sex marriage by sleeping with a woman who may not be on the pill -- then Elle provides invaluable advice!) As for Ty Pennington's magazine, well, it's not the DUI that ruins it but the feel that it's a poor Real Simple-Blueprint derivation. And God forbid you forget that the man has endorsement deals -- even his list of essential household tools is a lame excuse for a Craftsman logo. Pennington may be a network TV host but stuff like this really should be just a gift with purchase at Sears.

So yeah: the Dallas Morning News, although given to a measure of self-indulgent reminiscing, gets this book review right

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Tappy Fourth

Light some firecrackers and celebrate the Fred Astaire way.

(I must warn you, there IS smoking.)

Monday, July 02, 2007

Ask not whom the mockingbird mocks

It's amazing what you discover when you stay home for a few days. For instance, I just realized a mockingbird has built a nest on my porch AND we're expecting quadruplets! I'm so happy! She is the Northern Mockingbird and the nest is hidden -- honest -- in Confederate jasmine, which I think makes my porch the true and long awaited healing place for regional, political and racial tensions. Come on over! This particular bird is not aggressive so you can walk right up to my front door without fear of the Tippi Hedren treatment. Although if the father comes around, all that may change.

Are you like me? Whenever you see a mockingbird, you instantly think of the merry-go-round theme from The Sting? So cheery and upbeat, I never suspected it's a song about a dead girl or that its history is quirky and rich. (You can download a traditional version here but I prefer this performance partly for its priceless introduction but mostly because it's danceable.)

Of course if none of that is to your taste, there's always the Patti Page classic "Mockingbird Hill" (here performed with -- God help us -- Toni Tennille). I feel certain that whoever wrote this song never actually heard a mockingbird's trill. Far from "peace and goodwill," waking up to the sound of a mockingbird's song in fact fills you with an irrepressible urge to yell "shut the hell up!"

But I'd never do that to an expectant mother.