Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Miss Kubelick wishes you a happy new year

Shut up and deal.

The Fortune magazine quarterly survey, January 1937

It's from the issue with all the champagne coupes on the cover, and I highly recommend it for the collection of ads inside. Also, in the "Off The Record" pages, there's an anecdote about an advertising executive who composes what he's sure is a winning idea, only to discover there was no ribbon in his typewriter. Ah! Hate it when that happens!

But as the magazine's quarterly feature reveals, 25.5% of people surveyed thought the depression was over and 31.9% thought it was not. That's the word they use too—depression. With a small d.

When asked "John D. Rockefeller Jr. is quoted as agreeing with the statement that thirty years will see the end of great American fortunes. Do you agree with him?" 27.6% agreed. 44.5% disagreed. But there's a follow-up question: "And if wealth goes, will the people benefit?" 57.4% said yes. Seems odd. The editors note that "of the people who believe that dissipation of wealth would be beneficial, 68.9 per cent of those definite on politics declared they intended to vote for Roosevelt; of those who think fewer fortunes would mean less general prosperity, 61.0 per cent voted for Landon. These latter were most heavily grouped in rural districts and small towns, the backbone of American conservatism."

Respondents also worried that big chain retailers had an unfair advantage over independent stores and favored a tax to level the playing field. And while lots of people loved the idea of having an "automobile trailer" so they could travel anywhere, some worried this "mushrooming industry" would bring on "an alarming case of vagabondia."

Vagabondia. I'm determined to work that word into more and more of my daily conversations.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What the hell goes on at Fry's?

Bad: Ausaf Umar Siddiqui, their VP of merchandising "is accused of putting together a straightforward kickback scheme that demanded exorbitant commissions from a handful of companies in exchange for prominent placement at Fry's stores. Prosecutors say he used the money to pay off massive gambling debts at several Las Vegas casinos."

Worse: "Siddiqui's obsession with Las Vegas gambling was no secret on the second floor at Fry's headquarters....Whether Fry's knew of his multimillion-dollar debts is uncertain. Fry's loaned Siddiqui $5.1 million in November 2002 and $5.3 million more in February 2003, according to a lawsuit filed last week, but the company declined to say why it made the loans. A review of public documents shows Siddiqui has been sued by at least five casinos from New Jersey to Connecticut to Nevada, and owes the federal and state governments more than $21 million."

I think the story behind the story -- the winking at misconduct, the unseemly lavishness -- seems somehow in line with the Fry's shopping experience, which I can only describe as customer-hostile.

"Also she's beginning to remind us of the woman in the atrocious Lexus ad whose new car is an even better present than her childhood pony."

Are you surprised at the Caroline Kennedy backlash? It seemed to come out of nowhere. One day, she's Camelot incarnate -- tragic and admirable -- then, boom, everyone's making fun of how she talks. That's quite a turn. It'd be worth studying this to see what lessons there might be for brands except that it all will soon be forgotten: "He will eventually appoint Caroline Kennedy, as the Obama team would like, but he will bank that favor and leverage it down the road."

Friday, December 19, 2008

"the industry, which has long been viewed as being riddled with inefficiencies and extravagance, is likely headed for a massive shakeout"

The advertising depression: "media economist Jack now forecasting an unprecedented three straight years of declines in advertising and marketing spending in the U.S. starting this year. To put that in perspective, the industry hasn't suffered even a two-year spending decline in advertising since the 1930s. All the money expected to leave advertising has weighed on the media sector, especially the ad agencies. 'It's not just economic,' Myers said in an interview with Dow Jones Newswires. 'It's secular and systemic. It's like moving from an agrarian economy to an industrial economy. Anyone connected with the advertising business is challenged right now.'"

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's obvious Tom Cruise needs reading glasses, isn't it?

Almost endearing.

T.O. = Norm Crosby

First he claimed this latest controversy was due to a "lack of unprofessionalism on Ed Werder's behalf." Now he tells ESPN, "I'm the pitfall for everything." See? He seems to be making verbal gaffes but is, in fact, revealing core truths. I'm telling you, I saw this act in Vegas once. I was very entertained.

"there's the concern there are no new products"

Steve Jobs will not be at Macworld. Is it just because there are no new products? Are there no new products because of the economy? Or because Jobs is ill?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"This is turning into reality TV for some people. They are seeing it on the news and then coming to the scene to check it out."

Bank robbery in South Dallas. A security guard may be shot and there may be hostages. But by all means, brave the icy streets and go out and get yourself on TV.

It's time once again to talk about Faith Popcorn's predictions

I just read the story about a shopper who hid her Hermes purchases in a plain bag and I'm trying to figure out what it means. Does this bear out Popcorn's prediction that "We’re shifting from bling and flash to no-logo apparel and accessories; from having the latest and greatest of everything to learning to live a Simple Life?" Maybe. Especially if "Simple" = white paper sack. But I don't know how any of this squares with the "Death of the Consumer" or "shared values."

Meanwhile, there's this from the NYPost: "'This is different from the latest "It" bag or the $1,000 pair of shoes,' said Alison Burns, global client services director for JWT's New York office. 'That's because diamonds have this remarkable store of enduring and emotional value.'....Consumers want to feel good about their purchases....'People are asking themselves, do I need this, does it matter to me, do I love it?' JWT's Burns said."

Which sounds an awful lot like this: "People will have to prioritize their spending, choosing the heating oil bill over the 'it' bag, filling the gas tank over filling their closets. They will still want to look their best, and shopping will still make them feel better in this tough time. (Small Indulgences) But when they do make fashion purchases, they will be more careful, selecting apparel and accessories that can be worn multiple ways for multiple seasons and/or items that are extra-special."

Monday, December 15, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Voila Monsieur Tebow

They can't give him the Heisman again, can they? I'm not even sure he's a real person. Maybe just Brendan Fraser reprising his role from School Ties. In the name of Archie Griffin, please award that thing to Colt McCoy.

NEXT-DAY UPDATE: Bradford? Crap.

DFW-based companies are not, apparently, too big to fail

The 24/7 Wall St prediction for Pier 1: "More losses mean debt service becomes a huge issue. No other retailer is likely to want the stores, so this is probably liquidation."


That makes this Dallas Business Journal quote more interesting: "If the company can’t get through the short term, there’s no point in planning for the long term, says Cece Smith, a Dallas venture capitalist and member of the boards at Pier 1 Imports Inc. and Brinker International Inc. 'The board has to get as short term (focused) as a manager,' she said. 'You have to get to the long term.'" And it makes selling that building to Chesapeake Energy more interesting. Unless you're Chesapeake Energy.

Bright spot? Faith Popcorn would like to remind you that it's not Neiman Marcus. Radio Shack? Maybe!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Shhh. I'm in my uber cocoon.

Faith Popcorn, again: "A new socioquake transforms mainstream America....Look for: The death of the Consumer, long live the Citizen....shared values, shared interests, democratic decision making...."

So are all the McDonalds meals, Walmart purchases and auto czar talk just temporary? Because I'm not seeing anything anti-consumerish and shared-valuish yet. I'll keep looking though.

Now that I think about it, Popcorn was right to predict "Luxury consumers don’t want fashion that screams luxury." But maybe it wasn't because of the "irresponsible" factor. Maybe it was because all the status-y stuff is so heavily discounted now, even the middle-class can buy it.

Monday, December 08, 2008

I still can't believe he quit on his stool

This seems right: "If you don’t appreciate what this man has meant to boxing for the last fifteen years or so, and if you don’t see how his exit from the stage could prove a curse rather than a blessing to our sport, you haven’t been paying very close attention."

And this is interesting: "I compared Oscar to ARod – the money, the talent, the movie-star looks, the whole world at his fingertips and yet somehow everything he does turns to shit and ends up making him look like a fool." Yeah, why is that? It's like they both have blind spots when it comes to their own images. Do they misread popular sentiment? Or pop culture? They go on and on as if they're old-time Hollywood stars whose fairy-tale public images have been manufactured by a studio publicity department. They seem to think no one will ever know better. It's a little creepy and outdated.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

"The secret is to 'talk, talk, talk. You can't let the customer think too much'"

From the Wall Street Journal: "At malls across the country, shoppers are being besieged by a determined crop of salespeople: young Israelis who man mobile carts and have a no-holds-barred selling style. Amid the grimmest holiday season in years, these workers are approaching passing mall shoppers or calling out from their stations, pitching body lotions, irons, toys and knickknacks."

I want to say that I admire the workers' artful selling and old-timey gumption but I don't. I stopped going to The Galleria because their kiosk vendors were so annoying. Turns out this is a problem: "After fielding complaints about overly aggressive vendors, some mall operators have taken measures. The Natick Collection, a mall in Natick, Mass., forbids cart salespeople from calling out to customers as they pass....The Westfield Group, an international owner and operator of malls, has a no-touch policy for cart sellers." Wise.

Howard Cosell > Rosie O'Donnell

Even his short-lived variety show outlasted hers.

Of course, of all the short-lived mid-70s variety shows, I still like The Jacksons best.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

"rich folk ... are experiencing an unfamiliar emotion: luxury shame"

Newsweek's "vulgar" is Faith Popcorn's "irresponsible." Which is the trend -- rich people living modestly or articles about rich people living modestly? Because there's a difference. And can it truly be considered modest -- "humble in a good way!" -- if you make a show of it?

As for Newsweek's using Michelle Obama as an example of a "recessionista" -- oh well.

Monday, December 01, 2008

"'Buy art,' [Cynthia] Rowley said. 'That’s the only thing I buy now.'"

Searching for interior design that's not "irresponsible." Or vulgar!

Margaret Russell, Elle D├ęcor’s editor-in-chief suggests splurging on "quilts: 'things that really feel right, and humble in a good way.'" Splurging to look humble. That's her brainstorm? I want new tastemakers. Then again, while my reaction to all this is not as violent as Choire Sicha's, I remain completely puzzled by the shelter magazine category anyway. Blueprint, Home, House & Garden, O at Home have stopped publishing even though we're all supposedly staying home more. Even Cottage Living got shuttered, despite a million subscribers and an editorial philosophy -- "Comfort. Simplicity. Style." -- that seems based in reality. Maybe only House Beautiful's Stephen Drucker knows what he's doing.

On the bright side, I assume that in advising everyone to "buy art," Ms Rowley has now excused us all from buying any of her Target designs ever again. Freedom!

Friday, November 28, 2008

"'These are the things they want, and they’re going to get them like they always do'"

Christmas shoppers in Houston. What was it Faith Popcorn said about being "'irresponsible'" during a recession? (I know. I'm obsessed with that prediction. Or at least, I'm obsessed with how easily that prediction has already been accepted as fact.)

As for stores around here, this Dallas Morning News article is OK but it's weird that their own shopping blog has nothing.

First-hand frenzied shopping report

I had no good reason to go other than I couldn't sleep but I was at Kohls before 6am. Surprising: there was a long line of people waiting in the rain for the nearby Target to open. At Kohls, the parking lot was crowded and the check-out line wound back into the store aisles. Most surprising, though, was that Kohls managers were there, keeping everything moving. It was actually almost pleasant. But I'm not going back out again until, I dunno, next week?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Looks like crap

After all these years, I updated the template and I think the results are semi-disastrous. I feel like Pepsi: why'd I bother?

Anyway, did I really think I was going to add a gadget? Me? C'mon.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wanna go to the mall? Maybe get an Orange Julius?

JCPenney CEO Myron Ullman: "People psychologically want to be in a discount or freestanding box environment.” Is he speaking specifically of Walmart? Is he saying that freestanding stores in general are better off? Have malls become toxic? What will all this mean for NorthPark purse-snatchers?

But this is interesting. At Penney stores, "Women's and children's apparel and family shoes were the best performers while jewelry and home divisions continued to be weak." Apparel?

What will happen to Paris Hilton during a recession?

As a symbol of excess and unseriousness, she now seems a bit out of step: "Paris Hilton's popularity has plummeted. The heir-head, whose show, 'Paris Hilton's My New BFF,' on MTV has low ratings, was booed so badly at the Kress in Hollywood this weekend, she refused to take the stage."

What Would Tyler Durden Do could have it right: She's "boring."

"And Marques Haynes to show you how"

It's hard to make anything of the NBA-Harlem Globetrotters marketing partnership -- "Terms of the deal were not disclosed" -- but that's OK. I've finally found the Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Machine and this is as good a time as any to sit back and let the mid-70s memories take over. And: bonus! The Hudson Brothers too.

Monday, November 24, 2008

"consumers are no longer 'behaving like Sarah Jessica Parker' in 'Sex and the City.'"

I take that as a good sign. But "it’s not simply a cooling of the desire for fashion that is affecting women’s apparel retailers. 'Corporate headcount reductions and rising fears of future unemployment have made our client cut down or even cut out her spending all together.'"

Well. Don't be too quick to dismiss a cooling of desire. What does everyone expect when "animated kewpie dolls" are our style icons?

Friday, November 21, 2008

I was so naive to think that a discussion about holiday decorations would be cheerful and non-polarizing

Oh my dear Lord: "Those inflatable snow globe-esque thingies that everyone with a small yard seems to have gots to go. They anger me." Thank goodness for Jane. And for Anonymous who wrote "Christmas is for everyone, not just kids. It's even for people with no style. Happy Holidays!"

ADDED: I wasn't too clear here, was I? I just think it's mean -- soullessly mean -- to make fun of how people decorate for Christmas. Kinda misses the whole point. I feel this same way about Christmas sweaters. You may not feel that Christmas sweaters are dignified. Or tastefully understated. Or whatever. But the people who tend to wear Christmas sweaters in earnest always seem to be the same people who bring the best food to the office potluck lunch. The kind of people who always make a new pot of coffee instead of leaving the dregs to burn. Those people are great.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Is that Glade woman idiotic? Or hot?

An intriguing debate.

Yay Sherman brothers

Yay Stan Lee, Olivia de Havilland and Richard Brookhiser. And everyone else awarded National Medals for arts or humanities.

While I go in search of "Alibi Ike" -- Ring Lardner! -- let's all sing.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"I work at Wal-Mart and they treat me a lot better than you spell"

You can't even read about how well big-ticket items are selling at Sam's Club without the comments quickly becoming a rehash of the same, tired, standard Walmart debate. (To be fair, writer Ann Zimmerman herself encouraged this when she made the WWE crack. Honestly. These white trash jokes have been around for years and people still bother to type them out as if it's all somehow original and clever.)

This is the interesting part though: "Sales of groceries and other consumable products—life’s necessities—account for more than 40% of Wal-Mart’s sales....Target Corp. is also a discounter, but its sales last month slipped 4.8%.... more than 40% of Target sales come from apparel and home furnishings, products that shoppers have decided they can live without in these tough and uncertain economic times."

Numbers confuse me. But wouldn't have been helpful to note what percentage of Walmart sales come from apparel and home furnishings. It could be as much as 60% right? Why can shoppers live without Target's non-necessities but not Walmart's? What does all this mean for Target designer collaborations? I'm still going to be able to get tattoo-print fabrics, right?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"And step upon it heavily"

I didn't realize that This Is The Army was finally released on DVD on Veterans Day. And I had no idea about this: "'This is the Army' has circulated for decades only in cut, poor-quality prints and videos because of its murky copyright status. Warner Bros., which donated the film's whopping $9.5 million profit to the Army Emergency Relief Fund, donated the film itself to the organization in 1950, so it wasn't included in the hundreds of pre-1948 WB talkies sold to TV later in that decade. Warner Home Video's George Feltenstein says the official DVD release was suggested by the Rogers and Hammerstein Organization, which administers the rights to most of Berlin's songs and shows. R&HO don't own the rights to the songs in 'This is the Army' - Berlin donated them to the charitable God Bless America Foundation, which he started in 1938 because he didn't want to profit from that song. So Warners licensed the movie from Army Emergency Relief and the God Bless America Foundation." Amazing.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'm beginning to worry about Mr Calatrava

Chicago's Calatrava Spire is in trouble. "The celebrity architect for the 150-story building, Santiago Calatrava, has filed a lien on the project....the developer hasn't paid him $11.34 million for his work."

Add to this Dallas' Calatrava bridge which at first was merely millions of dollars over-budget then modified and now delayed "due to a shortage of steel and coin." The indignities! And if it really is true that "luxury consumers don't want fashion that screams luxury; it's 'irresponsible' during a recession," will it follow that they don't want buildings and homes that scream luxury? Gasp! Perhaps Mr Calatrava should pursue a Target home furnishings line. Oh. Being a celebrity architect is hard.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Good question: What is UP with stores?

I realize New York is a different world and boutiques are a different world within that different world but still: "What is UP with only putting sizes S and XS out on the floor? Really?....Do I really have to ask for help if I want something that will fit my giant, medium-sized ass?"

These labels simply don't want their clothes seen on anyone other than a XS, right? Bad for the brand image. Probably, also, they lack the skills to design and cut a garment for anyone other than a stick figure but mainly, they've chosen to cater only to the XS as if that alone will create instant cache. It might work.

Friday, November 07, 2008

"'people aren't shopping to feel better. They actually are not shopping to feel better.'"

Do you believe these new stories: "Wendy Liebmann, chief executive of consulting firm WSL Strategic Retail, has noticed that the economic downturn is accelerating mainstream acceptance of the thriftier behaviors of the green movement, like cutting out bottled water and growing vegetables. '"People are saying, 'We are going to save money, and we are going to save the environment,"' she says."

Or do you think it's almost boilerplate?

Because to me, it sounds a lot like how people talk about their eating habits: "a lot of McDonald's customers say in focus groups that they want healthy food, but less than 10 percent actually buy the salads."

Maybe we're all foregoing expensive luxuries but we're still shopping. And there's nothing about Halloween decorations from Walmart that seems "green" or "thrifty."


Is the unbelievably brilliant Vanessa Williams the only reason to watch Ugly Betty?

No. Ana Ortiz and Tony Plana are wonderful too. And Judith Light always reminds me of those halcyon days when One Life To Live was borderline dirty. But the show really does need to ditch attempts at a Betty love angle and resist the allure of extra shiny bright guest stars. Oh damn. Well. Sigh. If only they could bring back Santos.

"Off The Hooker"

I love you New York Post.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I've bought American cars all my life but I will stop if there's a bailout for the US auto industry

I don't get this. Why do taxpayers have to help GM buy Chrysler? Why should tax money cover union benefits? I have a 10-year old truck and I'm ready for a new one. But why should I give my money to people who are already taking it from me forcefully?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"It is also rumored that the greatest cuts...are going to come in older, more experienced and well-paid workers."

Layoffs in Nascar. I've always considered Nascar not so much a sport as a really fun advertising medium -- like Red Bull Air Races -- so this is more grim industry news. My hope? That there's no negative impact on the M&Ms car paint schemes. Because those have always been brilliant.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Notes from my road trip

There is not a Starbucks on every corner. Almost no one likes black walnuts but everyone likes the Black Walnut Festival. Where you grew up always seems prettier than where you are.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Incredibly urgent question: will the current economic crisis affect goodie bags?

So far, according to D home editors, no impact.

Western civilization exhales!

Still, if luxury fashion is "'irresponsible' during a recession," what does that mean for the world of over-the-top swag and celebrity freebies? Is it bad form to accept such things? Does it reflect poorly on brands included in particularly garish goodie bags? Maybe Simon Doonan is right: "Future generations of social anthropologists will look back at the early 21st century and, scratching their heads, write complex papers about that bizarre era when people refused to go anywhere unless they were rewarded for their pains with sackfuls of graft."

Thursday, October 09, 2008

About Kenley's wedding dress

It does look like Alexander McQueen's design. And her bridesmaid dress owes a little something to the Sabrina dress.

I know Kenley is supposed to be the villain of this season's Project Runway but I can't hate her. Not if she's going to go and channel Edith Head.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Downtown Dallas can attract all the business it wants but everyone's still going to move to Highland Park

Wouldn't it be interesting to see how many at&t and Comerica workers actually bought homes in Dallas proper? Probably most of them landed in the Part Cities or Frisco. Probably no one chose to send their kids to Dallas schools. Why would they?

So, thankfully, somebody is doing something: "Members of the CEO group who have agreed to advise Dr. Hinojosa are volunteering their time....Mayor Tom Leppert has said DISD must take swift and decisive action to restore confidence in its financial controls. He said the school district's troubles affect all of Dallas and will have an impact on its national reputation in the business world."

Still, the Dallas Citizens Council isn't universally beloved and, if you're sensitive to appearances, you might wince at the prospect of a bunch of old guys telling the youngish Hispanic superintendent how to stick to a budget. Did anyone else step up? Doesn't look like it. Really, if executives couldn't count on finding a nice home in Highland Park, would any company re-locate to Dallas?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

There's no crying in fashion!

If only the rules of baseball applied to Project Runway.

As soon as everyone ganged up on Kenley, her spot at Bryant Park was assured. No reality show producer in the world is going to pass up so much potential for catfights and drama. The other contestants should have known better.

Vince the ShamWOW! guy warned me about this

Are the orange felt cloths I bought at the Texas State Fair genuine ShamWOW! towels? I'm beginning to wonder!

The sales booth -- right in the center of the Embarcadaro Building, you can't miss it -- is manned by a product demo guy who follows Vince's script almost to the letter. He uses orange towels that are stamped "Made In Germany." And the sign says "ShamWOW." But. There's no exclamation point.

I snapped up two rolls anyway then looked at the little photocopied label curled up in my purchase: "The Original Super Shami."

Taken in at the fair. So cruel. But I wasn't the only one because everyone was toting around those big orange rolls. Also, Dillard's seemed to be doing a brisk business selling perfumes (weird to you?) and KitchenCraft is everywhere as always. If luxury merchandise isn't selling so well, I'd blame higher prices for rides and concessions. 12 coupons for the Crazy Mouse! Highway robbery.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

I am waiting for knotty pine paneling to make its comeback

If Mad Men can get people thinking about the credenza again, why can't Betty's kitchen at least make knotty pine paneling socially acceptable: "[Production Designer Dan] Bishop is responsible for creating that vibe in the Draper kitchen, Weiner says. 'We talked about knotty pine because we all remembered it.' Mixed with plaid wallpaper? 'When I saw it, I thought it had the perfect match of tradition, taste and a little bit of flair that gave the room at times joy and at times a somberness,' says Weiner."

I'll admit it. I have very happy memories of pine-paneled rooms and I chose my house almost solely because its den has the original knotty pine wainscoting. I kept it! I don't care! Because, to my mind, this is just tragic.

Let's go to the Fair

Remember: if we get separated, meet me at Big Tex.

"'There will always be rich people'"

But ye may not always have expensive clothes. "Even Miuccia Prada, whose show is one of the highlights of Milan for its theatricality and design influence, seemed to be stepping more carefully." Maybe Faith Popcorn is right.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"Chesapeake is paying more money on advertising...but also gaining more clout as the go-to company for large leases"

A really good look at advertising efforts among area natural gas companies. There are two reasons I'm interested in this. First, it's instructive that Chesapeake dumped Tommy Lee Jones so fast. Second, Chesapeake's newest spot, which I can't find online, is very facty -- very nuts-and-bolts informational -- and they actually explain the term "frac'ing." And that gave me a little Battlestar Galactica giggle.

"$4 lattes have become a symbol of the small luxuries people can no longer afford"

Does that sound right? It's a throwaway line in NYPost's report on the Starbucks-Wieden & Kennedy split but it seems backwards to me. Wouldn't a $4 latte be what Faith Popcorn calls a "small indulgence?" Or is Holly Sanders saying that Starbucks has failed at that? And if you're paying $4, may I recommend the Starbucks drive-thru at Belt Line and I-30? Only $3.83. Hey! Adds up. And! It's surrounded by gas stations where you can fill up for less than you'll pay in Dallas. Shortage or not.

The more Merrill Hoge criticizes Vince Young, the more I think Mack Brown is a managerial genius

Soft baby? Really? Well. If all this is true, it kinda makes Coach look even better -- that he helped keep this guy focused enough to win a national championship. See also: Cedric Benson, Ricky Williams.

Although Coach Brown doesn't kick Oklahoma's ass often enough and I can't quite forgive him for choosing Simms over Applewhite, he has a certain way of maximizing the talent of crazy young people.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

For "many men camouflage is less about invisibility than fashion."

New deer-hunting camouflage is computer-designed to fool deer's unique eyesight. But will it catch on: "no matter how carefully the patterns have been computed, no matter how precisely the new hunter’s digital camouflage is calibrated to deer’s vision, there remains one large uncertainty: Will hunters wear overalls covered with pixelated squares that look like computer-generated abstract art? Or will they stick with their traditional preference...? Getting soldiers, at least the male ones, to switch to digital camouflage wasn’t easy....Some soldiers hung on to the old-fashioned designs because of what Dr. O’Neill called the C.D.I. factor: Chicks Dig It."

More important: how will these new patterns coordinate with camo beer cans?

How's that whole movie investment thing working out for Dove?

There's something pathetic about Meg Ryan dredging up her ex-husband's infidelities in order to promote a very bad movie. And The Women is very bad. Kate Coe has neatly compiled the reviews as well as the problems -- which should have been obvious, I think -- with remaking a classic.

But it's important to remember that this wouldn't be happening if not for Unilever's Dove: "Eventually, [director Diane] English secured $16 million (peanuts for a star-studded feature film) with help from...from Dove, which tied the movie to its global 'Campaign for Real Beauty' promotion."

So. Why does a Dove "Real Beauty" promotional vehicle star a woman who's most famous these days for a weirdly unnatural face? Make sense to you?

"Problem is even the yokels are buying this stuff up."

Stupid, stupid yokels! Buying up all the cheap, China-made Target crap that's clearly intended for far more sophisticated buyers. The very nerve!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Have you bought any of Denny Hamlin's stuff yet?

I missed out on the fax machine and the bocce ball set but, as of this writing, bidding is still open on the clock. Yes! The one from the FedEx commercial! Although. Maybe I should save my money because the typewriter, rubber cement and the brake pads are coming up. Also: good to see his feedback is 100% positive.

See? You're starting to agree with me, aren't you? NASCAR promotions are funny.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

"We’re shifting from bling and flash to no-logo apparel and accessories"

Faith Popcorn's latest predictions might be bad news for Pharrell Williams. But this seems more like wishful thinking: "Luxury consumers don’t want fashion that screams luxury; it’s ‘irresponsible’ during a recession, but they want something durable and worth the splurge."

[via Racked]

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"We are not stupid."

Then why does your new website -- aimed at female sports fans -- sound stupid? "The site's content will be organized around newsy blog posts, with regular offerings in the areas of fashion, travel, food, media and 'swags' -- sports wives and girlfriends. It will also feature what [founder Erica] Boeke calls a 'fantasy league lite,' in which participants can accrue points not only by picking winning teams but by correctly answering quiz questions such as 'Will Jessica show up at the Dallas game?' But there will only be so much of that kind of stuff, says Boeke: 'I don't want to be the TMZ of the sports world.'"

I'm a little bored by Boeke's concept and by "how she thinks women prefer to think about sports -- with the emphasis on personality and drama rather than on statistics, records, best-of-all-time lists, etc." I mean, that's a total cliche, right? What's the movie line about liking baseball? And isn't the personal drama thing already the formula for all Olympic coverage?

I'd rather just read Deadspin. But, to be fair, maybe that's because they too dispense with the statistics in order to play up the drama.

Poisoning 6000 infants

CNN: "More than 6,200 babies have been sickened by the tainted milk powder, said Li Changjiang, China's director of quarantine and inspection, up from about 1,200 on Tuesday. More than 1,300 infants are hospitalized. The illnesses include malnutrition, kidney stones and acute renal failure.... Li said Wednesday that the powder has also been shipped to five other nations, including Bangladesh, Myanmar, Yemen, Chad and Burundi." Apparently, raw milk had been mixed with melamine, the same chemical that last year was found in shipments of pet food, killing dogs and cats here and resulting in a $24 million settlement.

Be sure to read the last five sentences in that CNN report. It tells you everything you need to know about China's quality control and environmental standards.

It somehow reminded me of this: "Oil prices have made some imports prohibitively expensive, far outweighing the advantages of cheap production costs in China." And this: "ZAP’s vehicles are currently manufactured in China, but...the costs of logistics for ZAP have risen in recent years, particularly to ship vehicles from California to the East Coast. A Kentucky manufacturing plant would help reduce that cost." I don't know what any of this means or if it's good or bad but I do think about it all whenever I'm in a Target. It makes me kinda immune to the hype.

Monday, September 15, 2008

"'It was quite an institution, and Charlie's the last punk rocker'"

Bar of Soap, now closed.

Of course, Bar of Soap played a unique -- and, it could be argued, instrumental -- role in the history of ad blogging. Let's review.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"But around 1 pm the tent was largely empty"

Sears at Fashion Week. It's not the combination of "low-priced retailers and Fashion Week" that's pathetic here. It's the utter lack of imagination. The profound half-assery of simply putting up a tent and doing little more than have LL Cool J sign autographs.

It makes Target's temporary Bullseye Bodegas look all the more amazing. There's an actual concept and the attention to detail -- the crates in front of refrigerator cases, for instance -- really is breathtaking.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The most important opinion of the day: Bennett on Zoe

From Project Rungay's Q&A with Laura Bennett:

"What was Rachel Zoe like?
She had a person doing her hair the whole time. I think her critique was OK. She knows about clothes.
She doesn’t know how to dress people.
She does if they’re going to a 70s party."

Bravo-on-Bravo violence! Delicious! I have to admit, that NYTimes Zoe profile was fascinating -- she's the genius who first saw trips to Starbucks as a business opportunity and masterfully used the paparazzi as her own personal PR machine. At the same time, she actually refers to sunglasses as "sunnies."

All these years later, it's an Absolutely Fabulous character come to life.

"Despite the similar getups they were not in fact there as a couple"

Look closely at this photo and you can just make out the presence of Jeff Gordon and Pharrell Williams.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

"precisely choreographed orgies"

More Cowboys football talk! Weeee!

It might be old news. But. You have to wonder why Irvin isn't one of the three billion ex-football players to currently have a job in TV.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

I'll hum "What Do You Do With A Drunken Sailor" and you start reciting "The Autumn Wind Is A Raider." Ready?

It was hard for me tell if this Slate article was a review of HBO's Hard Knocks or a promo for writer Stefan Fatsis' own book. By the end, though, what is clear is that Fatsis can look at a group of men -- some with bad attitudes, some with criminal records, some with an inexplicable need to seek out TMZ cameras -- and pick out the "blowhard coaches [who are] taking their jobs way too seriously" as the real villains.

"We want the speechifying, Princeton-educated Garrett brothers, both offensive coaches, to be drowned in a training-room ice tub." We do? Because I think Jason Garrett is pretty well-regarded. And he's the next head coach.

But here is where Fatsis completely loses me: "In one scene, safety Roy Williams reveals the players' dim view of their bosses after one compliments him. 'I'm sure the coaches will find something to say,' he sniffs. (Sure enough—and credit to NFL Films for showing it—we cut to a staff meeting were a coach criticizes Williams for reacting too slowly on a play.)" Roy Williams, who each week desperately wiggles his way into every HBO shot, has sucked hard for quite some time now. I don't think the coaches are the problem.

Fatsis is right to say that Hard Knock is "terrific entertainment, but it's not journalism." Otherwise, we'd know the identity of the player who's "been a bum the whole camp."

Friday, August 29, 2008

Go Cuppycake go

Chihuahua races this Sunday. I haven't bought a racing form yet so I don't know who the oddsmakers like but I've picked my favorite.

"We view those that cut costs too future road kill for better-positioned retailers"

Things aren't getting any better for Sears. It could be their chairman. Could be their format: "Another key problem is that Sears' strategy - a century-old 'general store' model in which women may find themselves walking past sections full of tools, washers and dryers when they're searching for clothes - is outdated, says Michael Stone, CEO of the Beanstalk Group, a branding and licensing consultant. 'Sears needs to pick its path,' Stone said. 'They can't travel down every road.'"

Looks like it'll be the clothing road because soon, Sears will be at Fashion Week! With LL Cool J and Dr Rey!

The last time I was at Fashion Week, GM sponsored the entire event and, while I haven't done any follow-up checking so I can't be sure, it totally changed everyone's mind about the carmaker and brought about genuine, lasting success. Must have. Didn't it?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

"Watch the breathing"

Keith couldn't have been more loathsome. Lack of empathy, inflated sense of self -- well, no need to continue. We all took Psych 101.

The really interesting thing might be that, after all these Project Runway seasons, people still aspire to be models. Because Project Runway's constant sub-plot is how unglamorous and de-humanizing the modeling profession actually is. Wendy Pepper's model had to make the best of a bottomless swimsuit, at least two women have gotten a steam iron to the crotch, a size-4 model was called "zaftig" and last night, Keith actually told his model to "watch the breathing." It can't be repeated often enough: Project Runway models do not get paid. If they're lucky enough to be paired with a talented designer, their photo might appear in Elle. Then if they work hard, catch a few breaks and go on to acheive great success, they get to marry a guy who looks like this. Really. These are brave, amazing women.

OH! I forgot the funniest moment from last night's show: seeing Laura Bennett seated next to Rachel Zoe. Wasn't it Laura who -- at the depth of despair in the black & white challenge -- wailed that she didn't have it in her to design something for the Olsen twins? Isn't Zoe responsible for that disheveled big-hair-raccoon-eyed-child-body look?

"He hopes the treat will earn him his fourth Big Tex Choice Award for the 2008 State Fair of Texas."

Yay! State Fair food news: "a pineapple ring battered and deep-fried, topped with banana-flavored whipped cream that’s been frozen in liquid nitrogen. The smoking concoction is covered in strawberries and syrup."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I have a conspiracy theory for everything. Why do you ask?

Maybe having Rafa refuse Nike's makeover was part of the strategy all along.

There's no place like that magazine that just shut down

Home magazine, like House & Garden before it, has called it a day. Right when, we're told, everyone's beginning to stay home. You'd think this would be the perfect time for a magazine that helps you enjoy your home more.

Maybe it is, if you approach it the right way: "some publishers say a drop in spending on homes doesn't necessarily reflect declining interest in home improvement, even if it has had a negative impact on advertising in some magazines. 'There are many ways you can improve a house, whether it's $15 for a can of paint or $15,000 for a new bathtub,' said Stephen Drucker, editor in chief of Hearst Corp.'s House Beautiful, which had a 19% increase in ad pages in its second quarter." That's very Home Depot-ish of him, isn't it?

But you know I love Stephen Drucker. After all, here's a guy who was named EIC of a shelter magazine at a time when everyone stopped reading magazines and buying homes. And still, he's game. This is from his letter in the August issue: "To everyone who hesitates that decorating is a luxury at this unsettled moment, I'd like to say that I think home is more important than ever, not a last priority in your budget, but a first. Now is the time to set a beautiful table and invite friends for dinner, rather than go to a restaurant...." Before he's done, he touches on every conceivable advertiser category from home accents and electronics to contractors. And I think it's a brilliant defense of his magazine's purpose. It could be a mission statement.

Then there's this news about Michaels: "Some product categories such as kids crafts, jewelry making, and baking supplies, have done well, but were offset by declines in bigger ticket items such as floral arrangements, home decor and custom framing." Seems to indicate that people don't want stuff so much as stuff to do when they're at home.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Local papers please copy

I'd like to congratulate the Morning News for jumping right on the DeMarcus Ware story -- the one that ran two months ago in the New York Times. This is so reassuring. Those Belo buyouts aren't going to damage product quality at all.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Then again, maybe mom jeans are actually a statement of radical individualism

Just when I began to dismiss baby boomers as a caricature of themselves -- what with their Dennis Hopper retirement plans and their "don't trust anyone over 90" hair color -- I may have to change my mind. It started a few weeks ago when Grant McCracken wrote: "I believe some contingent of boomers will refuse all the stereotypes associated with age, and keep on going to defy the social stereotypes of every kind. In the process, they will be a new motor, much resented, for cultural change."

And then this, from a story about Sigrid Olsen and the demise of her brand: "clothing labels like Olsen's, made by and for the baby boomer generation, are among those being hardest hit by the current economic turmoil....from a retailer's perspective, boomers' tastes and attitudes are so varied that their fashion choices are no longer age specific or dedicated to one designer, which is having an impact on where they shop."

No loyalty to labels? Eclectic, maybe even quirky, tastes? Behavior that can't be stereotyped? Hmm. Are boomers more indie than their children?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

But a midi skirt over stirrup pants is my signature look

Of these 12 all-time horrible fashion trends, I'm -- at this very moment -- wearing at least nine.

Kohl's way of giving back to the community

I think we all realized Kohl's had given up on newspaper inserts the minute neighborhoods became blanketed in hand-distributed Kohl's fliers. You have to wonder. What is it about Kohl's that they so often end up as the subject of a blog rant?

Still, my own experience is that Kohl's is more pleasant than, say, the JCPenney stores at Valley View or Collin Creek -- which is unbelievable considering corporate headquarters is only miles away. Do retailing people ever shop at their own stores?

"Hell yeah I'll sit on this couch and eat this yogurt that makes you crap"

You'd think that Saturday Night Live bit would have shamed Activia into taking a different approach. No. They and their legions of mysteriously irregular women have soldiered on. And now buying any brand of yogurt is embarrassing. How did this happen? As someone who has always liked yogurt -- liked plain, nonfat yogurt simply for the taste -- I really wish Jamie Lee Curtis would go away.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I miss Kelli Martin already

Those midwestern girls, huh? Love them. Especially when they bite back. Especially when they go redhead. I think Project Runway is getting predictable in who gets spared and who gets auf'd but at least the judges' very personal criticism of Kelli should make the reunion show loads of fun.

Monday, August 11, 2008

When you assume

USWeekly's editor-in-chief Janice Min: "We proved that celebrity-magazine readers were not obese women who spent all day watching TV and smoking cigarettes."

Who was working under that assumption? Mostly Min, right?

ADDED: I only ask because this is how Min recently described her old boss Bonnie Fuller: "'She is able to almost distill the id of the reader,' Ms. Min says. 'She channels them in a way few others do, and what she heard is: "I don’t care about your acting method in your last movie. I just want to know what workout you used to get that fabulous body."'" [via Grant McCracken]

I just wonder who's more weight-obsessed -- Min or her readers?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Those opening ceremonies creeped me out

I may not be totally on Team Mia about all this but there was something odd about Friday night. Deja vu? And even though Bob Costas got excited, I thought the sight of hundreds of bodies moving in exact synchronization seemed less like an artistic vision and more like a totalitarian dream. What does Beijing mean by "1 world, 1 dream" anyway? Did everyone get wise to the whole "let a thousand flowers bloom" ruse? It must be OK to be straightforward with your planet-dominating intentions these days.

ADDED: Computer-generated? Well, why not? As long as Matt Lauer thinks it's OK.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

More of the same

For reasons I can't explain, these two items made me think of the atmosphere inside some offices:

This Project Runway recap from Manolo's Shoe Blog: "this brings up...the Manolo calls 'faux eccentricity,' the tendency of among many young fashion designers to adopt outrageous clothing and patently false personas in the hopes that they will mask the fully conventional heart which beats beneath. Grotesque tattoos, wacky clothing, and affectedly stereotypical personas do not the unconventional mind make. True and original eccentricity is as rare as the white buffalo."

And this quote from an article highlighted by "The first disadvantage of an elite that it makes you incapable of talking to people who aren't like you. Elite schools pride themselves on their diversity, but that diversity is almost entirely a matter of ethnicity and race. With respect to class, these schools are largely-indeed increasingly-homogeneous."

Friday, August 01, 2008

I would now like to welcome Richie Whitt to my world

Yes, I-30 between Dallas and Arlington is the world's ugliest stretch of highway. It's also been under construction since Nolan Ryan was an active major leaguer. This is what makes the drive to Fort Worth -- or just to Six Flags or a Rangers game -- such a grind. Where you'd gladly drive an equal distance to the minor league park in Frisco or an outlet mall in Allen, the drive along 30 is bleak and soul-draining.

And someone in the Cowboys organization must realize this. Because if you're a season ticket holder who passed on tickets at the new stadium, you got a follow-up survey. Why didn't you renew? Is it the expense? Is it your age? (!) Is it the new location?

Pretty smart on the Cowboys' part. Right now, everyone answers that it's the cost. That's all anyone's dealing with -- now. Next year, when everyone will be bitching about the road construction and the traffic, the Cowboys will point to their consumer research and tell us that, according to their numbers, no one minds the drive. But really? Everyone hates that drive.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The kind hearts and gentle souls of Washington Post readers

Jesus. Hank Stuever's Extreme Home Makeover opinions are ignorant and callous -- he actually uses the word "schadenfreude" in a story about a family facing foreclosure -- but the readers' comments are often worse.

You know, Extreme Home Makeover is a terrible show in many ways. It's sappy and so beyond heavy-handed as to be exploitative. And this is not the first time someone's struggled in their made-over home. But I think the show has helped a lot of families and the vast majority of them are still in their homes. So I don't quite get Stuever's claim that "If it was wrong to think the economy could go on forever subsisting on money that no one actually had, then it was wrong to think there was something wonderful about watching shows where people got houses for nothing, and then expect them to live happily ever after." What does the sub-prime mortgage crisis have to do with this particular case? Stuever seems to breeze past another important point too: These aren't typical reality show contestants or random lottery winners. The Extreme Home Makeover families really have faced unimaginable hardship. The show has also built a church, funded college educations, donated to food banks and created a meeting center for Native American service veterans. Was it wrong to think that was wonderful too?

Stuever and his readers sure are clear about what isn't, in their opinions, wonderful. They abhor Disney. They don't have much regard for stay-at-home moms. They're indignant that the re-built houses are worth over $400,000 -- all those fireplaces! -- although I wonder what is the appropriate dollar value and design of a donated home? Look, I hate Extreme Home Makeover. I can't exactly believe I'm defending it. But it's silly to make this show and this family one big national symbol of whatever it is that's irritating you at the moment.

Another deadline

If you want to register for any of the State Fair Creative Arts competitions, you have two days left. I seriously covet a ribbon and the hobbies/collectible category seems made for me. Should I? Do I dare?

And oh yeah: Big Tex got new clothes, which means the State Fair news cycle is off to an exceptionally early start. Happiness!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Project Runway's Kelli and American Idol's Amanda: at the very least, they have to be drinking buddies

The eyeliner, the smoker's voice, the midwestern upbringing: maybe it's the same girl, just different wigs.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


This makes two. And yes, this is my proudest Internet moment.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Maybe the "Keep Austin Weird" movement should declare victory

It's one thing for Lance Armstrong to be seen with an Olsen twin then Kate Hudson. But now that Robert Rodriguez is having a mid-life crisis and Matthew McConaughey is trying to make everyone forget the Nicaraguan thing with new voice-over work, I'd say the city's nutty, weirdo, anything-goes image is in good shape.

What I do worry about though is the "state trooper on duty at the Governor's Mansion the night of the fire [who] spent about 27 minutes surfing Internet Web sites." He's being vilified, it seems, for spending "about five minutes on, about two minutes on and 20 minutes on" But look, this is the water-powered message: "we could all be running our cars from pure H2O! Together we could heal the Ozone." Capitalizing "ozone." Kinda weird. Very Austin.

Pin-ups and low points

Look through these Guess ads and tell me who's the weakest link. It's Paris Hilton, isn't it? She's horrible. A complete blank. And her poses are so--cliche? stupid? I know we all make fun of her but it's a little shocking that a set of carefully styled photos could make her lack of talent so plain.

[via Kempt]

If at any point the creative brief contained the words "must convey qualities generally associated with an asshat," then they've succeeded

The only thing more annoying than the Ty Coughlin radio spots is the likelihood of the client seeing this, in positive terms, as "buzz."

Monday, July 07, 2008

Friday, July 04, 2008

A little July 4th fireworks for you

Courtesy Love American Style. I don't know about you but when I think patriotism and romance, I think Andy Devine.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Please don't tell me you missed Rosalind Russell night on TCM

Because the woman is a national treasure. There's art just in the way she holds her chin.

Something I noticed for the first time: look at her suit from His Girl Friday. See how the seams on the sleeve are meticulously aligned with the seams at the hip so the geometric pattern is perfectly uninterrupted? Damn. Interesting that, while Russell wears only two suits in this movie, both are so stripe-intensive. It's from Kalloch, who evidently knew what stripes can do for a woman. And who was, obviously, a genius.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Cyd Charisse night on Turner Classics

I always thought she was at least 6 feet tall. With those legs? Had to be. But then I saw her once in person and was shocked to see she was probably 6 inches shorter than that and not so curvy but slender. So let's watch Singin' in the Rain. And adjust our impressions of Gene Kelly accordingly.

LATER: Are you watching? Because Palmer Cortlandt just showed up on The Band Wagon. I don't care for The Band Wagon much but the Ava Gardner cameo was exciting and Nanette Fabray is cute as a button.

One more thing: it's interesting that the heroes here simply want to do a musical-comedy; they're appalled when a big-shot director wants to turn it into a serious drama with an important message. Of course, today the plot would be reversed -- the hero always wants to do serious work but everyone else insists on cheap, mass-appeal elements like comedy and chicks. Who do kicks. (Time out. Must watch "Choreography." Vera-Ellen oh my gawd. Back to The Band Wagon.) So why did things change?

"observers found it ironic that CBS' top spokesman was promoting a book about slacking off "

I didn't know until just now that Stanley Bing, author of Executricks: Or How to Retire While You're Still Working, is in fact Gil Schwartz.

Maybe you don't remember Gil Schwartz. Do you remember Mary Mapes? Dan Rather? The non-existent document experts? Yeah? In the middle of all that, Mr. Schwartz, in his official capacity as CBS spokesman, sent Mapes an email that was so hilarious, urgent, and lyrical I wrote: "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."

And here I could have been reading his columns all along. Did everyone know except me? (Answer: yes).

ADDED: I don't know if that quote from the Post represents lazy thinking or some sort of corporate intrigue but it seems silly to make Schwartz a scapegoat for the network's troubles.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I will not apologize for watching TMZ

Illeana Douglas kinda has a point: "When I watch TMZ TV, it's so funny how they're all laughing as if it's exciting. 'Get this! I've got Vince Vaughan! He's at a newsstand! He's reading Playboy!' And then they all laugh, as if it's a story."

Yeah, it's a lot of nothing. But, in criticizing the show -- a show which, I think, is built on making fun of celebrities mostly for their lack of self-awareness -- doesn't she reveal her own lack of self-awareness: "why am I more interesting at the airport than feeding the homeless at St. Thomas Church?....I've been with Tom Arnold doing charity events--and it's funny, I didn't see any paparazzi around. I was with Sharon Stone handing out sleeping bags on Christmas Day, and I didn't see TMZ there. Why is that not as compelling as her having lunch at the Ivy?'"

Talk about your ill-timed name-dropping. And I'm still marveling at how subtly Douglas manages to recount her own good deeds. But the answer to her question is probably obvious to anyone who is not famous: celebrities are more interesting when they're not completely controlling their own image and message. A celebrity at a charity event is a standard photo op as old as Bette Davis selling war bonds. A celebrity going through airport security? That's a situation that can reveal true character. If people want to see Illeana and Tom helping the underprivileged, Access Hollywood and plenty of other shows will serve it up. Why would TMZ want to copy that business model?

I don't mean to be critical of Douglas. She's a talented actress and she cares what people think. She simply fails to take into account the existence of celebrities who aren't concerned about looking good or bad, who are famous merely for being famous and who make their living that way. These celebrities have pretty much made a mockery out of entertainment journalism and TMZ is a consequence of that.

Bright side: Entertainment Weekly's new branding. They are departing from the celebrity magazine model and focusing instead on achievement. They might become the anti-TMZ.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

"'Mad Men' is not a 'hit show.' It was a failure both in ratings and especially in audience demographics"

Interesting counterpoint to NYTimes feverishness.

Me, I just think it's offensive to describe Matthew Weiner as "both ultimate authority and divine messenger, some peculiar hybrid of God and Edith Head." And I say that as a devout worshipper of Edith Head.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Let me tell you how embarrassed I was to be so busy and in-demand

I wanted to love these little anecdotes from Liener Temerlin, Stan Richards and Bob Bloom. Oh well.

Reading this kinda took my nothing day and suddenly made it all seem worthwhile

WWWD's ode to The Mary Tyler Moore Show: "We didn’t discover the show until a few years ago (thank you Nick @ Nite reruns), but we immediately fell in love with Mary’s spunk and instantly adored Rhoda, her best friend/neighbor, too. Part of the reason for our immediate connection with the two characters was due to their amazing personal style. Mary's high-waisted super-flared denim, skinny belts worn at the natural waist, and conservative, but flirty, work dresses were extremely influential then and look completely current now. Not to mention how fresh Rhoda’s gypsy/hippie ensembles—complete with piles of long necklaces and headscarves galore—still seem, decades later. The show may have ended over thirty years ago, but we’re Currently Channeling: Mary and Rhoda today!"

This reminded me of Interior Desecrations and James Lileks' sensible advice that total decor disasters can always be averted by designing rooms with Laura Petrie in mind. Interesting. Is Mary Tyler Moore the only fashion icon who spans decades?

Brazilian-Belgian brewing giant: new band name?

Perhaps it does not reflect favorably on me but I have made my love for the Clydesdales known time and again. So I want to note this: "the family-friendly Clydesdale horses have emerged as the symbol of resistance to a takeover of Anheuser Busch....The horses are now being repeatedly invoked by those who fear the loss of jobs and the foreign takeover of an American icon if InBev, a Brazilian-Belgian brewing giant, succeeds in its bid."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

What's worse than waiting in line to renew your driver's license?

Waiting in line to renew your driver's license when the power goes out.

What do you do? You're 45 minutes in so do you cut your losses and come back first thing the next day? It's pouring down rain. Leaving -- getting to your car, then getting out in traffic where the signal lights are probably out too -- isn't going to be pleasant either. Do you stay?

I did. I fought through it because my license expired and renewing it is one of the few transactions that has to be done in person. And there was plenty of upside. Two hours at the Department of Public Safety is an excellent opportunity to get to know people you'd almost never encounter in a typical afternoon at the office.

Oddest overheard snippet: "Who got her pregnant?"

That's the exact quote. Not "who's the dad?" or "who's she with?" So later, when I read about the teenage pregnancy pact, it seemed less shocking but a lot sadder.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Something I didn't realize about the new iPhone

Several things, actually. You can't activate the thing through iTunes? You have to do that in-store?

I'm telling ya, I'd pay an extra $100 to not have to visit the store.

AC/DC is now "another wholesome all-American Wal-Mart brand"

The new AC/DC album will be sold exclusively at Wal-Mart. Yes, it's about sales but it's also about hyping a hugely profitable tour.

And: how silly does AC/DC's previous deal look right now: "In August 2007, Verizon Wireless snagged the exclusive rights to sell the band's entire back catalog through March 2008, becoming the first and only digital music store to offer AC/DC's content. But the deal was limited to full-album downloads. That requirement is one of the reasons that AC/DC's music has not appeared in digital form to date. Because full-album downloads are too large and too expensive to sell from mobile phones, Verizon sold them only from the PC version of its VCast Music service, for $12 an album."

A Wal-Mart deal is probably the best first step in catching up.

You take that back right this minute, Time magazine

"The Very Worst in Golf Fashion" is a slightly amusing if mostly predictable feature. But including Jesper Parnevik? Bullshit! He's a fashion genius. And I love him.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Should the Governor's Mansion be re-built? Or should a new one be designed?

Governor Perry seems to think it's salvageable. Hard to see how. And if it has to be razed, can we at least consider something new, original and of this age to take its place?

Actually, on second thought: no. Let's go with a rebuilt replica. Everyone likes the old mansion and choosing a new design would require a committee. Shudder. Visions of non-smoking FDR statue.

By the way, I think the only reason the NYTimes has this story is so Adam B. Ellick can share one expert's opinion that the arsonist could be "'someone upset at the governor, which is probably several million people.'"

It's only a matter of time: The El Fenix Highrise Condos

You have to stick with it for a long while but finally this DMN story adds something new to the El Fenix restaurant story: "Mr. Deutscher expects Mr. Karns to build the downtown El Fenix upward once the market is ready, but that doesn't mean the flagship's days are numbered. 'If a high-rise is built on that corner, there will still be an El Fenix. There just might be 30 floors of offices and residential above it.'"

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The cover of Antenna magazine

A John Deere. DNR claims that "Antenna’s eye-catching cover subject, the oh-so-sexy John Deere Select Series X728 (which retails for $12,469), reflects the product-based media preferences of a new generation of style-savvy young men, who hold the brands they wear and the goods they covet in higher esteem than celebrity knowledge or service journalism."

Well. It'll be an interesting issue to read just to see how that branded attire is going over. Pretty well, I guess.

But I'm not sure what to make of Antenna's definition of itself: "Antenna is the first mainstream magazine to target individuals who are on a constant quest for the newest and coolest products on the horizon. And it does so without using celebrities, models, concept shoots, service stories and whatever else we deem superfluous to our mission: to become a guidebook, allowing readers to navigate the most extensive collection of products ever compiled in a single publication, while championing the people who create, sell and collect them—all in one comprehensive, artful, elegant and innovative format."

Does that first sentence -- which is so obviously not true -- undermine the rest of the statement?

Saturday, June 07, 2008

I'm guessing the comments aren't all from objective parties

Unfair Park takes a look at that Southwest Airlines ad. If you're a fan of fuel hedge talk and double posting, by all means dive into the comments. All I'll add is that, take away all other issues here and you have to concede that Southwest has managed to accurately reflect the general sentiment of people not employed by American Airlines or its vendors.

"El Fenix is the finest place where good amigos meet"

Do you sing that jingle to yourself every time you drive by the downtown El Fenix? Do your parents eat at the Northwest Highway El Fenix every Thursday night? Do you hope that the new ownership group means it when they say "El Fenix is a Dallas institution and an iconic brand....We look forward to being good stewards of this quality restaurant tradition."

Every time a cylon baseship jumps, an angel gets his wings

It's A Wonderful Life -- or death -- starring Laura Roslin.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

For me, it's always a bad sign when Mark Sheppard is in the opening credits

Because it means we're in for a very talky Battlestar Galactica episode. More old guys fighting, please!

"It was definitely an act of love, which sometimes requires financing"

When the new Joule hotel finally does open their bar -- and let's thank heaven that the deal with celebutrashy Pure got nixed -- I will go. Just because owner Tim Headington made me laugh with that quote.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Does the clerk have the same stylist as Erin Esurance?

Even though one is animated and the other is animation, does their love of eyeliner and layered haircuts seem similar to you?

Isn't it time for a Battlestar Galactica reference?

Does the photo accompanying this article about Hillary Clinton and her assistant Huma Abedin at all remind you of Laura Roslin and Tory?

Does that make Rep. Anthony Weiner a would-be Gaius?

Was that a countdown clock for Sex & the City?

Right in the middle of last night's Red Eye? Seriously?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"What a mama's boy coinky-dink!"

The opposite of excellent: in today's Awful Truth, Dallas native Ted Casablanca notices "Lance's mama, Linda, who has, let's say, a strong influence over her boy's life...just like Matthew M.'s does." So is Linda to blame for that Olsen twin? And Kate Hudson? How fast can a guy throw away his last shred of hard-earned likeability?

Believable ish: if you trust TMZ and if you think three similar events can be counted as a trend, then having an overbearing Texas parent is absolutely the hottest thing going! Yay Texans!

"Both companies are unprofitable, but many investors believe a combination of the two...would produce a viable company"

Not so excellent: The Blockbuster buyout of Circuit City might look a little different if there's a SEC probe to explain.

Entirely believable: Blockbuster's new in-store download kiosks sound awfully inconvenient and not much fun at all. But it's just a test!

"Ask your client about the escapades in the back room at Dolce in Dallas."

Excellent: the alleged Kobe Bryant-Laker Girl affair has a local angle. So to speak.

Unbelievable: someone actually reviewed Dolce without once using the word "douche."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"Watch this commercial and keep your eye on the blond girl. She is so smug and happy that she is eating a $1 Snacker. "

It's easy to blame overexposure but there may be something to these reviews: "Maybe it because I secretly want to live at this cool apt. complex and talk to my smooth black friend and attractive blond friend while they sit on the stairs and eat chicken and crack wise. Shouldn't this guy have a hip Asian friend with spiky hair and a track jacket hanging around? That is the way ad execs see mid 20 Americans."

How did he know?

But the real lesson here is to give up and just go with the dancing girls and a cool retro song. Always. All the time. Now.

Perhaps it was a blessing that Wal-Mart's upscale fashion line failed when it did

You heard about this, right? "Target Corp.'s first-quarter profit dropped 7.5% as the economic downturn has left consumers with less money to spend on discretionary items." Well, it's not my fault.

Meanwhile Wal-Mart's "first-quarter profit rose 6.9%, driven in part by consumers responding to its low-price message and buying food, groceries and generic prescription drugs in one-stop trips, analysts said."

So everyone's going to Wal-Mart to save on necessities. Makes total sense. Except: "The mega-retailer is also pushing items such as flat-panel televisions to increase its share of the electronics market. It's featuring meal solutions for $10 as more consumers eat at home amid the economic downturn. Wal-Mart is touting apparel for $10 or less and is adding exclusive merchandise such as Iconix Brand Group's Ocean Pacific and OP brands and Jones Apparel Group's l.e.i. line of clothing for teens. On its lagging home-goods sales, Wal-Mart is touting 'vacation in your backyard,' with merchandise such as grills and patio sets."

It's the Target $1 aisle in reverse, isn't it? Bizarro! Could Wal-Mart become a fashion powerhouse after all?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Remember: these are the people who claim to set trends

How fashion editors demonstrate fresh thinking: "Now that it's a hit and moving to a new network, 'Project Runway' has lots of magazines eager to partner up with the show for the sixth season." It's funny because Elle, which benefitted from the partnership, was chosen only when other magazines declined.

So what's next for the Nina Garcia-less Elle? "CW unveiled its new show 'Stylista' its upfronts on Tuesday, which stars Elle fashion news director Anne Slowey and creative director Joe Zee. The network described the show as '"The Devil Wears Prada" reinvented as a reality series'....Viewers who watched early clips released on YouTube pointed out Slowey's hyperstylized appearance akin to Meryl Streep's character in the movie, and its campy take on fashion."

Remember Slowey? Last time we saw her, she was complaining about vulgarity, specifically "too much tooty." It's touching to see someone so unappealing not give up on her TV dream. And if it means copying a well-worn show format or imitating a fictional character who's based on a real-life person who just happens to be a more-famous competitor, eh, so be it.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

"Architectural collectibles:" is display space a problem?

The Kaufmann house is auctioned off at Christie's. Wasn't this Tim Allen's house in GalaxyQuest? And really? People "collect" architecture? Does anyone in Dallas realize this?

Random thoughts on Camille Paglia

Her latest column seemed sad. Maybe it's all the Stevie Wonder nostalgia.

After I read it, I looked back at my movie teachers post and realized that Paglia writes the way Miss Brodie speaks. Ish.

Finally, it's a crying shame that Paglia is not, as far as I know, a Battlestar Galactica viewer. I'd pay cash money to read her reactions to each episode. War, religion, sex, Six—it's all pretty much right in the Paglia wheelhouse, isn't it? Although. If she hated it, I'd feel embarrassed and stupid.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Funny details from the Southwest Airlines cellphone user story

Maybe funny only to me. First, the guy's president of an "Austin-based environmental start-up company." Way to draw attention to the cause, Mr Jones! You are a brilliant representative of your company, city and generation.

And maybe in-flight cellphone use is a safety issue not because it interferes with the plane's navigation system but because having to listen to all those conversations would make everyone crazy: "Forrester analyst Henry Harteveldt said the use of mobile phones in the cabin raises another risk: air rage. 'No one wants to sit next to a Chatty Cathy talking about their latest conquest.'"

Maybe this is the first step to an Oprah-ESPN partnership

Hannah Storm is ESPN's newest morning SportsCenter host: "Storm wouldn't be getting that slot if the [ESPN] brass wasn't attempting to give their morning shows a little Meredith Vieira juice and tone down the highlight heavy, wise-assery of primetime SC....Consider this the latest evolution of ESPN as they continue to attract every single demographic out there. So, sports-addicted mini-van mommies, you are finally being recognized."

Well: ugh. And? Hannah Storm? She couldn't attract women viewers to a network news morning show. Morning TV is so women's issues-oriented (in an embarrassing, insulting way), isn't it worth it for ESPN -- or any cable network -- to be different?

But it's certainly a good time for cable, even amid all the upfront horror stories: "One bright spot this year seems to be cable TV. Media buyers are eyeing cable programming more closely than ever because the writers' strike has caused the broadcast networks to lose viewers to cable. Buyers said several cable networks have the chance to both raise prices and gain more market share from broadcast competitors."

ADDED: What makes the Hannah Storm hire more interesting is that, at one time, ESPN actually had a female SportsCenter host capable of drawing millions of women viewers. If I remember correctly, though, Robin Roberts was relegated to early Sunday mornings.

Important things to remember about Fox News and brunettes

This TVNewser post almost leads you to believe Channel 4's Megan Henderson will be a new weekend host for Fox & Friends. But the last line is key: "The insider also tells us Henderson's appearances 'would not be limited to weekends.'" Exactly. At Fox News, brunettes are sent off to cover tornadoes, wildfires and Mideast bomb blasts. Even the most infrequent viewer knows that the comfy studio couch is only for leggy blond girls.

Monday, May 12, 2008

It's a bad time to be a second-tier character on Battlestar Galactica

If they're not Cylons or probable Cylons, they're dropping like flies. It's getting harder to care. Or is that just me?

Friday, May 09, 2008

"I think you have to stake out a territory and deliver this really unique perspective"

I love this Greg Gutfeld interview not because I agree or disagree with anything Gutfeld says but because what he says is thoughtful, unpredictable and so concisely stated: "'Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares is awesome. He's the most hypnotic, magnetic character on television. He goes into a restaurant and he looks how things have gone wrong and he gives them three pieces of advice: Simplify the menu, fresh ingredients, affordable. These three things are integral in everything you do in life, whether it's a magazine or a meal.'"

Is that vaguely Godinesque?

And does this remind you at all of working in advertising: "Prevention was my first writing gig, and I did nothing but serious health news, generally focused on women problems: estrogen, endometriosis....And I knew that the only way I could do that, I had a picture of my mom on the desk, because you have to write for your audience. How do you write health stuff for a 70-year-old lady? So every time I'd look at her and go, 'Okay how do I explain hemoglobin? It's this stuff in your veins.' You actually have to write like that. It was an amazing way how to learn to write concisely."

Come out of your half-dreamed dream

I canNOT believe that a list of the 5 greatest movie teachers does not even mention The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

Once you watch Maggie Smith proclaim, "It is true I am a strong influence on my girls. I am proud of it! I influence them to be aware of all the possibilities of life... of beauty, honor, courage. I do not, Miss Mackay, influence them to look for slime where it does not exist! I am going. When my class convenes, my pupils will find me composed and prepared to reveal to them the succession of the Stuarts," you are changed forever. And you begin to appreciate the power of the bouffant.

One other movie teacher bizarrely overlooked: Professor Taub in The Sure Thing. Though it's a limited role, Viveca Lindsfors is unforgettable and does more for reading glasses than I can possibly say.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Target $1 aisle restores my will to live

My midlife crisis began a few months ago when I first realized I needed reading glasses. OK, I know everyone wears them but for me, at this point, this was just too, too humiliating.


Target made all these different reading glasses and put 'em in their dollar bin. I bought 10. Plus a pair of bifocal sunglasses. And I did this not because readers are so easy to lose but because I think these glasses are awesome. And cheap. And therefore fun.

It normally doesn't work like that, right? I mean, you're only supposed to covet things when they're rare or expensive. But I went to 3 different Target stores just to be sure I had all the ones I wanted. And now I'm like, check it out, I'm wearing glasses. They're kitschy so I might be wearing them ironically. Or. I might not. It's very liberating.

How does Target do that? Is it like a super-hero power that could be used for good or for bad? Should we be frightened?

I am mesmerized by the actress in the Progressive checkout spot

Although judging from the comments on the imdb message board, not everyone's a fan.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Cally! Nooooooo!

I loved that character. She was whiny and slouchy but her will to survive was second only to President Roslin's. I mean, when she wrench-whipped Chief Tyrol? Scary, sad and awesome.

And is Tory evil because she's a cylon or because she had sex with Gaius?

This is all so depressing.

Friday, April 18, 2008

I want to make a joke about emotional scars

If you're a mom and you're about to get cosmetic surgery, there's now a book for you and your children: My Beautiful Mommy -- a touching story that follows the journey of "a girl as she accompanies her mom on a cosmetic surgery consultation. Mom then explains she'll soon be 'prettier,' and shows where the bandages will be, and the finished product!" The book "was developed by a surgeon who wanted to help children 'feel excited rather than scared' when their mommy goes under the knife."

[Blinking. Sputtering. Harsh cussing.]

Here we are, worried that food ads make kids fat, toy ads foster materialism and Barbie images render girls insecure and now there's a for-sale book that helps parents teach children that elective surgery = beauty and fitness. I'm flummoxed. Quick. Someone sing a Crosby Stills Nash song.

One more thing: the doctor-author portrays Mommy's surgeon as "a musclebound superhero type."