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.