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."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

"Clever" for the category maybe

Kenneth Cole steps down as CEO of his own company but that doesn't mean those ads will change: "In hiring Granoff, Cole has shown a willingness to pull back from day-to-day decision making to focus on the creative and strategic vision of the company, including his hallmark of clever advertising."

"Approaching Six Flags is like building Disney, backward"

The newer new plan for success at Six Flags. It involves story-telling. And properties in Dubai and China.

I'm thinking the story-telling won't involve any Confederacy talk, war with Mexico or any other story that explains what the Six Flags stand for, in which case: maybe they should consider a name change? Walt Disney is the thread that ties all Disney park stories together. How's it gonna work for Six Flags stories?

But oh hey look: first-quarter attendance is up probably because of the early Easter and probably because high gas prices keep people close to home. What luck! Let's celebrate! Grab a beer and let's get in line for the new Tony Hawk roller coaster which--obviously--is part of the new strategy "to 'build the characters, build the story around it, build the emotion, the drama ... as opposed to just putting rides up on cement.'"

The other Battlestar Galactica question

Did Mary McDonnell get some work done?

I mean President Roslin's brow, which should be furrowed since she is after all fighting both cylons and cancer, is suddenly as smooth as glass. Something's going on. It's distracting.

So this Mary McNamara column is awfully timely: "cosmetic surgery, well, it seems to have gotten out of hand. For a critic, this poses a dilemma -- while it is appropriate, indeed, necessary to point out technical things like disruptive camera work or shoddy set design, what exactly are you supposed to say about an older actor's strange shininess, newly bee-stung lips or eyes that seem to have changed shape and placement?"

It's a difficult topic "But television is a visual art, and if people are going to significantly alter the way they look in ways not directly connected with the roles they are playing, it can affect not only their performance but the whole tone of the show." Yes. This is hardly a time for Roslin to look smiley and well-rested.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Better than a BRC

Target's recycling ad: "you rip the newsweek cover off, tape it into a bag, and send your target plastic bags to a recycling center. in return, target will send you a coupon for a free target tote bag."

ADDED: It's a Target-Newsweek-TerraCycle effort and the tote bag is oddly cute.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I think I understand

It's OK to accept free Jamba Juice swingsets for exercising. It's not OK to accept free Happy Meals for making good grades.

The way it should be

The world's a better place today because a Texan is the new Miss USA: "Crystle Stewart, of Missouri City, Texas, runs a party-planning and motivational speaking company, as well as modeling professionally. She says she wants to dedicate her life to international philanthropy."

Miss Ohio was named Miss Congeniality which is about right.

Friday, April 11, 2008

John McCain's life in movies

Today he is Colonel Tigh. Earlier he was Luke Skywalker. But the Senator's own favorite film is Viva Zapata.

Is he taking full responsibility for blaming someone else?

Dallas Morning News on the 3000 cancelled American flights: "American Airlines chairman and chief executive officer Gerard Arpey said Thursday that he is taking 'personal responsibility'....'I run the company,' Mr. Arpey told reporters at an afternoon news conference, 'so if there's any blame to be had, it is my fault, and I take full responsibility for this.'"

Sounds so noble. So "buck stops here" ballsy. But at the same time "one of Mr. Arpey's chief lieutenants" sorta kinda subtly faults the FAA because "these audits are obviously not something that was anticipated a month ago." And two US senators helpfully chime in with their own questions about the FAA.

At this point it would be so totally cynical to note that Senator Hutchison's state is home to American Airlines and Southwest Airlines. It would be cruel to point out that in the past, "taking responsibility" meant resigning. And it's just too nit-picky to question Arpey's choice of words when he says "if there's any blame to be had." Arpey's being brave! Isn't it refreshing? Please applaud the brave executive! And please save all your questions and complaints for the FAA.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Worse than chick flicks?

Movies made especially for aging baby boomers: "'You're seeing more focus on more modestly budgeted films for mature audiences,' said [Overture Films CEO Chris] McGurk, whose studio is releasing 'The Visitor' this Friday in New York and Los Angeles, a movie about a bored sixty-something academic who finds his soul through an encounter with three foreigners. 'It's about the "aging boomer fantasy," one last chance at love or doing something important.'"

I don't know. Even though studio executives talk of films that show "'how old age can be a time of joy, usefulness and community,'" I feel like there's a certain condescension, stereotyping and bleakness to the themes they latch onto: "as 'The Bucket List' proved, impending death is also fair game." Oh good. I can't wait to pay $8 to see more impending death.

Also, what's our definition of "old age" these days?

Looking on the bright side, though, I hope there's some way all of this will inspire the makers of Spider-Man movies. Rosemary Harris was way too under-utilized in Spider-Man 3 and if there's going to be a 4th installment, I want more Aunt May.

NASCAR's here and I've had a beer buzz since Thursday

NASCAR promotions are fun. C'mon. How could you not want to put your face on a car? "Ron Bernheim shouldn't be surprised if he gets recognized on the street after this weekend. There's a picture of the NASCAR fan's face on the hood of Kasey Kahne's No. 9 Hellmann's car....The financial planner won Hellmann's 'Your Face in the Race' contest by filling out a form online." Sure, it's not the instant, no-strings-attached payoff of free curly fries for all Americans. Still it's kinda hilarious. Isn't it? Although Hellmann's was probably hoping the winner would be a woman, preferably a mom.

And: "next month, a fan will get to pop the question on the back of Carl Edwards' No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion....It's part of a promotion with the office supply retailer and romance publisher Harlequin Enterprises Ltd." I'm not sure how office supplies and romance novels are related but I think I'll take Harlequin's word for it that this is "a Harlequin NASCAR fan fairytale come true." It's also funny!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

UBS and the arts

From Bloomberg News: "A day after posting a first-quarter loss of 12 billion Swiss francs ($11.9 billion), UBS AG, Europe's biggest bank by assets, defended its sponsorship of the London Symphony Orchestra, which runs until 2010. 'To pull out at a time like this would be terribly easy, but I would say that if we did that, our reputation would be shot,' said Richard Hardie, non-executive vice chairman of UBS Ltd."

This goes beyond funding a few seasons. "UBS helps train music teachers, and has professional musicians play for classrooms in the East London area of Hackney. That program is now being extended to 10 different London boroughs, with 50 young instrumentalists getting special tuition at its expense. LSO musicians give concerts once a month inside the bank's headquarters."

When I first read about the UBS losses, the first thing I thought of was the UBS art collection. It's extensive: "With about 75,000 employees worldwide, there are countless walls to decorate, says the company's amusingly forthright Dr Petra Arends, the collection's executive director. In all, UBS owns more than 40,000 works, many inherited from the brokerage firm Paine Webber, which UBS bought for $12 billion in 2000." And, according to Arends, it's always on display somewhere: "'More or less everything is installed. Our policy is that we do not want to have art in storage.'"

None of this is unusual for banks: "'Chase has more than 50,000 works. I believe Deutsche Bank has a similar number....I don’t know the Goldman Sachs collection, and I don’t know a lot about the Deutsche Bank and JPMorgan Chase collections, but I know that they are huge."

It will be interesting to see how the music programs, the exhibits and the Art Basel sponsorship hold up. Unlike a sports or stadium sponsorship, corporate arts involvement has usually been immune to criticism. If I were an artist, I'd be rooting hard for some kind of economic/capitalist/fat cat/miracle turnaround here. Because UBS seems like a much more agreeable benefactor than the government.

"We would have to get much, much better to merely suck"

Confessions of a Best Buy employee. Somehow, though, it's working: "Touting strong demand for videogames, notebook computers and GPS devices, Best Buy said it expects a gain in earnings and comparable sales this year as the economy limps along....While investors worry over sluggish TV sales industrywide, Best Buy is stealing customers from competitors, and seeing double-digit growth in its 'Geek Squad' installation service."

It's Battlestar Galactica Eve

SciFi has rerun past episodes every day this week. Sigh.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

"New. Next. Now. Fashion."

That's the headline on a hang tag from Target's Go International line. Sorta has a "Lather. Rinse. Repeat." feel to it, doesn't it? Here's the rest of the copy:

"We've scouted and scoured to bring you the hottest, must-have items of the moment. But like all good things, what's in flies out."

And this is how I first read it: "This seems like a must-have at the moment but the moment will pass--it will fly out!--and in 3 months, this will be a Salvation Army donation." As negative as that might seem, it really doesn't hurt Target, does it? Cheap, fun, disposable is what they are. That could have been the headline. Would anyone care?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


I have to say that I hate NorthPark's expansion. What used to feel like a nice little sculpture garden with shops is now a sprawling mall and movieplex. And food court. A true teenopolis. Hate, hate, hate.

But it does have one huge advantage: no kiosks.

Honest to God. Have you been to the Galleria lately? Kiosks every couple of steps, which would be easy to ignore except for the kiosk vendors who are more than a little out of control. So aggressive. You can't go from Macy's to Nordstrom's without being accosted about hair extensions, jewelry cleaning or nail care and it's only by being rude can you get these people to back off.

How much revenue can these kiosks generate for the Galleria? Can it possibly be worth pestering shoppers in this way? Or is the Galleria such a tourist mall that management assumes there's no negative impact on repeat visits? Probably--tourists or not--the managers don't care.

Back to the NorthPark Starbucks! Both of them!

Man's best friend, without man

Love the Honda Element dog.

It's interesting that while the tag is "Man's best friend's best friend," no human is ever shown. I mean, I know that's due in large part to the look of the Element campaign but that spot doesn't work unless the dog's characterization is accurate and endearing. It's both and I think dog people really respond to it.

In a way, it reminds me of the Pedigree campaign. Seems like those We're For Dogs spots have been running forever but back when everything seemed new and fresh, I described it as "Celebrating the human-dog bond with spots that never show a human-dog embrace." Because there are campaigns that do that and they kinda leave me cold. And I love doggies!

Definition of scorched earth?

Numair Faraz's Motorola letter is pretty fiery. It's also the kind of thing that could be easily parlayed into a book deal, speaking tour and frequent appearances on CNBC. Isn't it? Railing against everything from a stupid boss to outsourcing, Faraz is an instant folk-hero. There are, of course, other lessons here like the importance of innovation but all that might get overlooked because it's the golf score accusations and overall violent indignation that makes this story so fascinating.

And certainly, this would appeal to someone at Fox Business News: "'It was my experience at Motorola, with...all of the loyal employees who still remain, that taught me what corporate America can and should be. But with people such as...yourself, Motorola symbolizes the worst of our country's corporate culture. As an immigrant American, and someone who has traveled all over the world, I really do appreciate the uniqueness and importance of the American culture of creativity and ingenuity. Whereas other countries back their money on gold and commodities, we back ours on our ability to invent the future.'"

If Endgadget is correct--that "Motorola's current CEO, Greg Brown, is so technologically out of touch he refuses to use a computer for communications, and has all his email correspondences printed by his secretary and replied to by dictation"--that's a wonderful detail.

ADDED: I first wrote that Faraz's letter was "salacious" but I don't think that's the right word. So I changed it to "fiery." Although, it IS salacious in a kind of business-news-as-porn way.