Friday, August 31, 2007

A gossip item so boring 5 of the 7 bold-face names weren't even involved

Every time Page Six mentions The Women re-make -- even if it's merely in passing -- I die a little inside.

Peggy: "Oh I wish I could make a little money writing the way you do!"
Nancy: "If you wrote the way I do that's just what you'd make."

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Is beautiful

But maybe not as practical as first appears.

Saluting an underappreciated advertising genre

The Fall network promo: is it truly "the most gloriously cheesy form of advertising known to man?"

Well, quite possibly yes, although earlier versions can seem straightforward and almost elegant. Just remember: one day, we'll think all the talk of broadcasting in HD is this quaint.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I tried, Sunsilk, I really tried

Don't you get the feeling that David Gianatasio wanted to like the new Sunsilk spot but couldn't? It's easy to see why -- it's not funny. What happened? It seems only days ago that Sunsilk charmed me into an actual purchase but this new spot isn't on that level. It's saved only by the recurring role of the Sex and The City-inspired hair therapist. Alarming! Sunsilk spots are usually more fun. And now, having tried the product -- did not like! got frizzies! -- I am very nearly demoralized. C'mon Sunsilk! Maintain a level of quality in something.

If only they had listened to that guy from Dayton

Near the end of this AdAge piece about Procter & Gamble's Iams -- damn competitors, always refuting your best claims! -- there's this:

"About five manufacturers that process more than 50 brands and retail private labels were affected by the pet-food recall, but P&G had more products recalled and has suffered a larger drop in market share than any other marketer....The recall began when Menu Foods, a contract manufacturer of wet and semi-moist pet food, said 16 pets that had been fed its food had died. P&G was the biggest among dozens of Menu Foods customers, having sold its only wet-pet-food plant to the company in 2004. P&G has stopped buying products on the recall list from Menu Foods, and Menu Foods announced earlier this month that P&G would no longer buy any of its wet-pet-food products as of Oct. 1."

The culprit of course was wheat gluten, a substance that's added only for visual appeal. It has no nutritional value for dogs and cats. And honestly, all this might have been avoided if P&G had simply remained true to the Paul Iams ethos -- "a key difference in Iams products was a heavy reliance on animal protein, instead of the grain proteins found in many pet foods." Something about being carnivores, I think.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Whatcha watchin'?

I'm watching an honest-to-God demolition derby on Speed. And I'm highly entertained.

State Fair food news!

Here it is! Phase Two! It seems Deep Fried Latte is the early star but watch out for Fried Cookie Dough: "It's chilled cookie dough that's battered and fried. He's going to make an 'everything' cookie dough with chocolate chips, coconut and pecans, but he might also offer oatmeal raisin and plain chocolate chip versions." Weeee!

And when the Fair opens, I can only hope Channel 11 once again sends out Tiani Jones to cover the midway. Last year, her report on concessions concluded with the advice that "after taking in all of this, you're going to need some Pepto-Bizmo." Seriously. That's how she said it. Just like that. Right here in the nation's fifth largest TV market.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Has quirk peaked?

Michael Hirschorn: "As an aesthetic principle, quirk is an embrace of the odd against the blandly mainstream. It features mannered ingenuousness, an embrace of small moments, narrative randomness, situationally amusing but not hilarious character juxtapositions...and unexplainable but nonetheless charming character traits. Quirk takes not mattering very seriously."

I'm not sure but if a writer for the Atlantic can so concisely describe the formula behind every commercial aimed at young men -- for fast food, deodorant, Skittles -- that formula should probably be re-assessed. Shouldn't it? This is an article that doesn't even address advertising but there it is: a compelling argument against putting a man in a Pippi Longstocking wig. "Correctly deployed, quirk yields unexpected treasures....[but] the problem with contemporary quirk: It can quickly go from an effective narrative tool to an end in itself."

[via KyleSmithOnline]

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I think Vogue's Thomas Florio just called Elle's Nina Garcia "B-level"

Fashionista likes Shop Vogue -- they really, really like it! "The video clips in particular will distract for hours, beautifully shot and almost more exclusive than stories in the magazine."

I admit it. Their recommendation finally got me curious enough to visit. Lord knows it was not Thomas Florio's comments in the NYTimes: "'America seems to be very interested in entertainment about fashion,' said Thomas A. Florio, publishing director of Vogue." Say, he's a sharp one! So gracious too: "And while Bravo’s popular 'Project Runway' may seem like the champion of the behind-the-scenes fashion genre, Vogue is hoping that its high-definition Internet videos will offer some competition. Episodes of 'Behind the Lens,' for example, will document recent fashion shoots for advertising campaigns....These episodes try to convey an insider feel 'without any of the negativity of the reality shows, and the B-level people in the industry,' Mr. Florio said. 'The real world is the glamour, the product. It’s not forced, it’s not a Kmart sticker over the runway.'"

Remember: if there's going to be any "negativity" around here, it'll be supplied by Vogue executives!

But I don't get the comparison. Does Vogue feel that, lo these three seasons later, they still have to defend their decision not to collaborate with Project Runway? Do they fear losing advertisers to Bravo? And does this mean that Kmart can't ever, as WalMart once did, buy a spread in Vogue?

[thanks to Make the Logo Bigger for the NYTimes link -- and for the fabulous vocabulary lesson]

Monday, August 20, 2007

Oh, so that's what makes boys and girls different

Just like Superbad, Kyle Smith's review of Superbad ends really sweetly and wistfully and with this remarkable insight: "There are only so many ways young guys can communicate: Comedy. Sport. Interpretive dance. Everyone I hung out with in my runty years chose the first one, and bitter, bitter were the regrets when each pair or group split, when we said goodbye to our comedy bloodbrothers....Once women became a constant presence, though, things could never be the same: there are large areas of the comedy map–Eurasias of humor–that you can never visit with females, because they can never receive a comic insult without feeling insulted. The iron rule of guy comedy is: no one can ever take offense."

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Roles that have become formulaic and therefore valueless

They're like stock characters only they're all too real:

- the female sideline reporter whose only way to cover a sporting event is to ask about feelings

- the gay male stylist who's brought into freshen up E!'s post-red carpet show

- the ex-lawyer talk show host who's tough on crime

- the outrageously self-assured reality show contestant who'll say anything!

- the outrageously self-assured ex-political operative/Sunday talk show guest who'll say anything!

Can't we try harder?

And another thing

I have other struggles. In fact, I've long thought about putting all my cards on the library table and telling you the truth:

I don't read books.

Or as I like to say at parties: I don't "read," you know, "books." Buy them, start them and almost never get to the end. But look, I'm not alone: "the crazy thing is that I maintain the belief that I'm still reading a book for many years as the pile of books I believe I'm reading piles up. One thing about reading on line -- especially reading to blog -- is that what you don't finish evanesces. Once the day has passed, you feel utterly absolved of any obligation to go back to anything."

This is like a weight lifted from my shoulders. And it has me wondering why, if reading habits are changing, do we have to make a value judgment about it? Maybe it's OK. Maybe books are to reading what opera is to music-listening. Maybe there's plenty of other rich reading experiences to go around.

Speaking of rich -- the September Vogue is here and I believe it now outweighs Anna Wintour herself. No one's finishing this thing.

"Why are so few of us left active, healthy and without personality disorders?"

It's always been difficult for me to read graphic novels and you, my NotBillable friend, can easily guess why. Yes! It's all those damn visuals -- pages and pages of them. They keep getting in the way of the text. I don't get it.

I kid of course.

Or do I? I think I do because like everyone else, I love Watchmen. And like everyone else, I squeal at the very thought of a movie adaptation directed by Zack Snyder. I know what you're thinking: Zack "abs happy" Snyder? Precisely. Here's a man who knows his audience: "This is not an exercise in marketing" -- dammit! no coins!-- "I’m interested in making a movie that’s not bullshit, that has balls."

Also Kelly Leak as Rorschach! Y'all!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Yes, it's enough to make me want to buy the magazine

Glamour hires an Ugly Betty star to guest edit for a day. But what makes this brilliant is they bypassed the gorgeous actresses and chose Eric Mabius who plays the inept editor for Mode. I think that's kinda charming!

And speaking of Ugly Betty -- and because everyone's excited about the new fall season, right? -- I hope the reports are true. I hope Santos is back because Kevin Alejandro is after all a proud and talented Texas ex. And a hot.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Which is funnier?

The idea for Tony Stewart pit patches? Or casting Carl Weathers as the president of Old Spice Marketing?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Vera Wang seems like such a nice woman

But her new line is scaring all hell out of Kohl's employees -- who apparently worry that the incessant steaming might cut into the time they've scheduled for dialectical exchanges with Paul McEnany. Priorities!

Even Kohl's seems skittish: "With the massive launch of the Vera Wang designed 'Simply Vera' collection, you would expect that Kohl's would be backing up their bet on Vera with a media onslaught. But that's not the case....When Target...or H&M launches a new guest designer line, they court press attention. Here is a department store shunning coverage of the clothing AND refusing to talk about the financials."

So is Kohl's afraid of alienating budget shoppers? Or could it be part of the deal with the designer -- who, after all, still has a high-end line to sell?

[via Racked]

NEXT DAY UPDATE: Or maybe it's because the label's parent company is being acquired.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Pretty hot out there huh?

I gotta go lie down for a minute.

What's happening back home?

Not much. Just the same old car crashes and nuclear fallout. But look! Ron's Pizza has a web site. Doesn't the new place look nice?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Diet Coke wishes and nicotine dreams

John Daly tees off in about 30 minutes and, to get in the proper mood to watch, I've been drinking Crown and Cokes since 7am. I am seriously rooting for this guy. Sure, Dallas' own Scott Verplank is a nice story but -- honestly? -- no one cares. Tiger and Daly are the only people who make pro golf worth talking about.

And have I ever explained my theory that golf's major tournaments are to middle-aged white guys what award shows are to women and gay men? That's not a criticism; just an observation -- as I said, a theory. One I'm still working on.

The dangerous movie adaptation for books

Movie rights for The Dangerous Book for Boys -- my most awkward bookstore purchase in recent memory -- have been sold.

How's that gonna work? Even though Glenn Reynolds has called the book a "cultural moment," it is a manual. Can a narrative be grafted onto it? Has that ever been done? Oh yeah! I think it has. Let me go back and dust off my copy of Helen Gurley Brown's Sex And The Single Girl. That was absolutely a cultural moment and a sort of manual -- albeit one filled with the worst possible advice you could give to women. Remember the movie version? No? Here, I'll do a quick re-cap:

Natalie Wood.

That's about all it had to offer. I hope things go better for The Dangerous Book for Boys. It's really a sweet book, very charming, and I hope at least those qualities get translated to the screen.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Take a moment to consider the plight of Russian billionaires

They may be overpaying for their art! "Dealer Daniella Luxembourg...said collectors should beware of the 'hype and marketing' that inflates contemporary artists' prices to levels that might not be sustainable." Hype and marketing -- she says that like it's a bad thing.

And who exactly is overrated? "Luxembourg wouldn't name 'overhyped' artists. Marketing -- by auction houses, museums, art fairs -- spreads knowledge as well as carries risks, she said. Richard Prince, Peter Doig, Cecily Brown, Julie Mehretu and Marlene Dumas have had rapid price spikes that may make them vulnerable if the market turns down, auctioneers and collectors said." Here's Mehretu. Hmm. If I had hedge fund money, I might be interested. But I had to look up Richard Prince and, although I can't really form any opinion about his work, I'll say this: when your Wikipedia bio urges readers to see also "Lesbian pulp fiction" and "Nurse stereotypes," I think you may have genuine staying power. Those Prince works are gonna be fine.

They were, in fact, supportive

Isn't Apple Tech Support the nicest bunch of people in the world? I may love them.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Because you can't find t-shirts or ceramics just anywhere

I didn't realize that Urban Outfitters owned Anthropologie, did you? I especially didn't realize that Anthropologie is the one that's doing well.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Culture according to Bravo

You have to wade through a lot of whiny reality show contestants but there are interesting little gems in this New York magazine article:

1. "[Bravo president Lauren Zalaznick] says that what crystallized Bravo’s programming philosophy for her wasn’t Project Runway so much as Bravo’s previous smash hit, Queer Eye. 'We had to define what pop culture meant on Bravo,' says Zalaznick. 'And what pop culture, as defined by us, has come to mean is five affinity groups: fashion, food, beauty, design, and pop. It’s not coincidental that the five guys in Queer Eye each represented one of those things.'" Interesting. Food would seem to be an enemy of fashion and beauty, wouldn't it? I assume she means creation and knowledge of food, whereas the other categories definitely relate to consumption. Also, when she defines pop culture as, in part, "pop," I wish she had been more specific.


2. Laura news! "Laura Bennett, the elegant matriarch from Season Three...bought back some of her work—her husband spent $13,000 on for seven items from her Bryant Park collection, under the handle 'Bad Daddy.'" Hilarious if you remember that cheater Keith called Laura a "bad mommy." And this: "When Laura, hugely popular with fans, failed to notify the network she’d signed a contract to host a style show on, they called and demanded an explanation. So she pointed out: 'What do you have to offer me?' (And now she’s in talks with Bravo about doing something for its Website and iVillage.)" Yay! As everyone knows, even more Laura is never enough Laura.

Not that funny

Fashionista reacts to Sarah Silverman's Gap ad. For me, it makes a non-impression. Is that possible?

Me and my 12 formats

Look, I enjoyed Seth Stevenson's "There Are 12 Kinds of Ads in the World" as much as anyone. It's well done and his examples are smart. I just don't know if he truly delivers on the second half of the article's title -- "Resist Them All!" -- or if that's even a promise that needs to be made. Here is his way of helping everyone resist (and I quote in full): "To me, the 12 formats serve equally well as a weapon of defense for the consumer under assault from endless advertising messages. It's like learning how a magic trick works: Once the secret's revealed, the trick loses all its power." Hmm. I think consumers already have an excellent defense against "endless advertising messages." It's called tuning out. No one needs to resist anything because no one can even recall anything.

The resistance message seems tacked on doesn't it? Especially when you read Stevenson's follow-up online chat with a reader who asks, "'I've tried to resist ads my whole life, but I can't do it. How can I resist like you?' Seth Stevenson: "I don't think I've put up a very effective resistance.'" Ooookay. Maybe the "trick" isn't in the format but in the execution -- or, as Stevenson calls it "the artistry." This is my favorite part: "to completely ignore the artistry and humor of ads is silly—sometimes an ad can be downright brilliant, and stick in the popular imagination for decades, regardless of how effective it was. That may not be much solace for the company behind the product, but it adds a little sunshine into the TV viewer's life. It's worth noting that and handing out kudos where they're due."

So go ahead: resist! Unless you're having fun.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Grand Hotel that isn't the movie

My fingers are crossed: "A California investor is negotiating to purchase downtown Dallas' derelict Grand Hotel – originally the Statler-Hilton – and restore it into a first-class property." I drive by this building all the time and even in disrepair, it's stunning. "Built in 1956, the sprawling building was once considered the country's most modern luxury hotel. It was designed by noted New York architect William Tabler." How modern? There was music in the elevators, for God's sake!

If a new owner does restore the property, let's hope the re-opening will measure up to the original debut, an event so lavish it featured "A-list Hollywood entertainers, the Governor, a Who’s Who guest list and—among other far-fetched acts—the Hiltonettes chorus girls performing in mink chaps and headdresses representing the 'ingredients' of Dallas." Yes! Please make this happen! All of us Dallas girls have been waiting years for just the right setting to once again break out our mink chaps.

Bonus: The renovation could even include a "vacant library building next door...built in 1953 and designed by legendary Dallas architect George Dahl" -- that officially makes it Double Dahl Day here at NotBillable -- and the whole thing "faces a downtown block which is being cleared to make way for a new center city park." In downtown Dallas? Almost too good to hope for, isn't it?


The annual State Fair news cycle has begun! To review: it starts with a close-up look at Big Tex's clothes. This will be quickly followed by food news -- what are they gonna fry this year? Then back to Big Tex for the always dramatic installation. It never varies. These pre-Fair traditions must be observed. It's important.

And this year there's something extra special and new because sky rides are returning. Yeah: I don't why. Last month when I was walking around Fair Park, I saw the setup and was surprised to discover that the gondolas are each the size of a Mini Cooper. I'm not getting in.

Best to stay inside the Hall of State and contemplate the genius of George Dahl.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

"They'll allow the audience to make their own judgments"

Translation: Battlestar Galactica producers are too chicken-shit to play it one way or the other.

Has it finally happened? Am I finally over this show? Maybe. Oh, what has David Chase wrought?

(via TV Tattle)