Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy new year to all

"It doesn't matter how whiny James is or who his father, now an ESPN analyst, happens to be"

I think this is exactly backwards. If Adam James had been a kid from another family -- say, with a working-class single mother who had complained -- it's a completely different scenario. Tech simply had buyer's remorse with Leach and took the first opportunity to dump him. That the father is so famous gives Tech's actions a veneer of legitimacy. And gee. Who could have been ESPN's "source close to the family?"

Well, too bad for Craig James. He used to seem at least likeable. And too bad for Tech students. They just lost the only person that made Lubbock half-way interesting.

UPDATE: Hmm. I wondered how boosters would feel about this. But look: here's a year-old email exchange between Tech officials and Dallas booster Jim Sowell (I assume that's this guy). Sowell hates Coach Mike Leach and offers this interesting opinion: "I promise you our prospects of getting a better coach are much higher than Mike's prospects of getting a better job." Riiiiiiight.

I have never wanted Michigan State to win so bad in all my life.

MORE: It's slow here at my desk so I am taking immense enjoyment in the Texas Tech email exchange, especially when another booster -- seemingly tired of Sowell's bitterness -- chimes in with a defense of Coach Mike Leach (he's "filled the stadium, sold all the suites, been to 9 straight bowls") and warns: "he is not a 'good 'ol boy' [sic], he's a quirky intellect who is a football coach. Love him or hate him, you guys should not be bowing your necks and running him off because you can't get along with or relate to some city slicker Yankee agents. I agree that you need to make some changes to his contract but, they should be done in a spirit of good will." Voice of reason, ignored as usual.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Enjoying your week off?

I'm headed back in to work! I work tomorrow too! I'm not bitter!

Like except all your matches are dead people

There's something odd about the tv spots. Maybe it's the way they portray researching a family tree, like it's a way of filling a hole in your life or healing an emotional wound. Therapy by other means. Isn't that a dangerous overpromise? Their earlier stuff had a much simpler message. I actually enjoyed watching those.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"We wanted to make sure that the world got to experience the demolition of such a historic facility"

Kraft Macaroni & Cheese will sponsor the implosion of Texas Stadium.

"He, however, refused to call himself a hero, saying: 'I never use that word about myself or my friends. We just did a job.'"

Knut Haugland's obituary is more action-packed than most spy novels you'll read. Here's a little bit:

He was selected by the Special Operations Executive (SOE) to train with three others for Operation Grouse, the raid on a hydroelectric power station near his hometown where the Allies suspected that heavy water, a key component in the atomic weapons process, was being produced in order to build a Nazi atom bomb.

He parachuted with three others onto the Hardangervidda plateau on October 18 1942. But a planned rendezvous with British engineers never materialised after the Britons' gliders crashed and the survivors were tortured and executed.

As a result the Germans were alerted to Allied interest in heavy water production, but Haugland was ordered to wait on Hardangervidda, where his team subsisted on moss and lichen and, just in time for Christmas, a wandering reindeer. In sub-zero temperatures he kept in contact with the British using a radio to which he improvised spares using a stolen fishing rod and an old car battery. Every night at 1am he would make contact, often unable to control the chattering of his teeth, using the password "three pink elephants".

It was February 1943 before Operation Gunnerside (named after a grouse moor owned by Sir Charles Hambro, head of SOE) was mounted. Six Norwegian commandos were dropped by parachute, and after a few days' search, met up with Haugland for a new assault on the hydroelectric plant.

The heavily defended plant was now surrounded by mines and floodlights and accessible only across a single-span bridge over a deep ravine. The Norwegians climbed down the ravine, waded an icy river and climbed a steep hill where they followed a narrow-gauge railway and entered the plant by a cable tunnel and through a window. In the ensuing sabotage hundreds of kilograms of heavy water was destroyed. Though 3,000 German soldiers searched for the saboteurs, all escaped. The Nazi heavy water project never recovered.

Oh, and then there's the part where Thor Heyerdahl asks him to be a crewman on the Kon-Tiki.

Hey did you have a nice holiday?

Hope so. Do you have to work this week? So do I!

LATER: Oh. Well. I can see by the complete absence of rush-hour traffic that you're not working this week. Only me. Fine.

Friday, December 11, 2009

"The watch...was appraised and found to be a fake worth only around $100"

And just like that the White House party crashers go from intriguing and cheeky to tacky and dumb. Or?

I mean, they had to know that their fake Patek Philippe would be discovered by a court of law, didn't they? Maybe this is part of the bit too. Quick! Someone check her David Yurman bangles. Hmm.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

The Las Vegas area "prosecutes roughly 200 cases involving gambling debts a month"

Still, there's a special place in history for the guy who lost $112 million in one year

It's not hush money if everyone's talking about it

What, exactly, is Tiger buying here? Is what's in the email and texts worse than what everyone can guess is in the email and texts? Especially after we've already read about the "crazy Ambien sex?"

I don't know if publicly paying out a million dollars to this cocktail waitress, a million dollars to that cocktail waitress, and a couple hundred million to the wife is quite the way to repair an image. Or are these ridiculous dollar amounts meant to distract us from all of Tiger's prescription drugs?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Has ClimateGate made the Prius less of a status purchase and if so, what's a carmaker to do?

Audi just spent $10 million to debut the new A8 at Art Basel Miami Beach. Audi "couldn't find a venue grand enough for the occasion. So it built one instead. Rising five stories above an oceanfront Miami Beach parking lot north of the Eden Roc hotel, the boxy and black temporary complex boasts 42,000 square feet of space. That includes a 1,000-seat auditorium, an underground kitchen, a stage with two revolving platforms for showing off the new $100,000 Audi A8 and an art gallery for installations from Miami's Rubell Family Collection. The pavilion opens Wednesday."

Two spinning platforms? Maybe there are women in evening gowns! Or at least celebrities! Sorta?

I just hope Audi's bold show hasn't been overshadowed by that visit from the US Marshals. Or by the news that someone paid $50,000 for a painting by Sylvester Stallone.

Anyway: which is now the bigger marketing/PR showcase -- Miami's Art Basel or New York's Fashion Week? I'm thinking it's the art fair!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

"'There is interest from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to bring the fight to his new stadium"

The Pacquiao-Mayweather bout in Arlington? Why? Because, in May, football then the NBA All-Star Game will be long gone and we can't forget about Jerry or his new stadium ever, ever, ever, even when baseball season starts up.

But a fight is different. And this fight is huge. Let the Nevada Athletic Commission and Las Vegas handle this. They have experience. Texas can't manage the crazy.

'There’s a lot of mainland Chinese buying; either they didn’t know what the items are worth or they wanted them so badly that price didn’t matter'

Record-setting prices for gems at Christie's Hong Kong auction. More evidence, I think, that the worldwide economy is screwed big-time and long-term.

Just as interesting though? The auction coming up Dec 10 in New York City. As for the identity of the "distinguished private collector" who's selling "magnificent jewels," any irresponsible guesses?

ADDED: Oh my gosh, did you preview tomorrow's Country Music Auction? LOOK AT IT! There's stuff from Roy Rogers, Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn! What's not to love? I want the Dale Evans hand-tooled leather fold-out purse (lot 21) and I'd marry the man who buys one of the Nudie suits and wears it.

Yeah, that talk about Halloween sales being off might have been crap

At least Michaels did OK: "the largest U.S. arts and crafts chain...swung to a third-quarter profit on the strength of Halloween and improved sales in other categories....The Irving-based company also noticed that shoppers showed up later for fall and Halloween merchandise, continuing a trend of making purchases closer to when they need items."

Don't tell Forbes or Martha C. White.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Christmas displays near and far

If you're going downtown to play in the Neiman Marcus windows, check the hours of operation first. The schedule definitely does not correspond to store hours. Even on weekends. And you can't make kids understand that.

But if you're anywhere near the state of Florida, oh my gosh. Go see the Osborne Family Lights. There is no way to hype or overhype how great this is and the effect it has on a crowd.

Finally: someone asks John Daly about the Tiger Woods story

I was waiting."The thing that Tiger needs to look at is, whatever happened, just tell the truth." Also? My two cents? Maybe ease up on the painkillers. Oh, let's not dwell on it. Instead, let's think back to a time when advertisers could still make Tiger seem likeable.

And hey! Isn't John Daly cute now? His girly friend used to be a marketing manager at Hooters, which is funny. The thing with Daly is, he's gotten into all kinds of trouble, all of it seedy and not sponsor-friendly, and still he's a fan favorite. It might be because he never really tried to "manage" a "crisis."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Every year, I go back and look up this essay by Christopher Hitchens. Here's my favorite part:

"it is the sheer modesty of the occasion that partly recommends it. Everybody knows what's coming. Nobody acts as if caviar and venison are about to be served, rammed home by syllabub and fine Madeira. The whole point is that one forces down, at an odd hour of the afternoon, the sort of food that even the least discriminating diner in a restaurant would never order by choice....Still and all, I have become one of those to whom Thanksgiving is a festival to be welcomed, and not dreaded. I once grabbed a plate of what was quite possibly turkey, but which certainly involved processed cranberry and pumpkin, in a U.S. Army position in the desert on the frontier of Iraq. It was the worst meal--by far the worst meal--I have ever eaten. But in all directions from the chow-hall, I could see Americans of every conceivable stripe and confession, cheerfully asserting their connection, in awful heat, with a fall of long ago. And this in a holiday that in no way could divide them. May this always be so, and may one give some modest thanks for it."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Kinda funny

I am genuinely charmed by QVC's plans for Black Friday: the "leading network for TV shoppers promises special deals and a healthy dose of new items for sale starting on Thanksgiving night. Program host Dave James plans to stay awake for 28 hours of telethon-like coverage.

It's an interesting attempt to create an urgent, frenzied, mob-like feel for people who stay away from the stores that day. You don't want to leave your couch, yet you don't want to miss the rush. Problem solved.

Why have you turned your back on NASCAR?

TV ratings "for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series have been on a steep decline since 2004. In fact, ratings for the Ford 400 have dropped 43% percent from the 2004 rating of 5.2 during that time period." Hmm. What's changed in the last 5 years? Is it surprising that NASCAR had so many viewers to begin with? And really, how can sponsors and manufacturers afford to stick around now?

Well, everyone has a theory. This comment is amusing and probably accurate: "NASCAR is sanitized enough to appeal to female democrats who are members of Westchester Country Club. The only problem is, they don't want it. Watch out for PBR (Prof Bull Riding)."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Now that you've given up fur, we'd like to talk to you about your wedding band and TV

Mining for gold ruins the environment and kills fish so right this minute I'm heading to the pawn shop to sell all my jewelry. Even the grill. Otherwise, I assume protesters will be all over me. I mean, has anyone been splashed with gold paint yet? It could happen! And if I lived in California, I'd get rid of my energy-hogging TV even before they vote on that big-screen ban. Don't want to get soaked by technicolor paint either!

More arty more fear

One more thing. Reading about the Christie's auction -- where a Peter Doig work sold for $10.1 million, indicating that Doig "seems to be weathering his recession-era testing nicely" -- reminded me of something from 2 years ago, when dealer Daniella Luxembourg was warning collectors about overvalued art: "Luxembourg wouldn't name 'overhyped' artists. Marketing -- by auction houses, museums, art fairs -- spreads knowledge as well as carries risks, she said. Richard Prince, Peter Doig...have had rapid price spikes that may make them vulnerable if the market turns down."

And at Sotheby's, "The market for Richard Prince survived its first major test since the recession. In July 2008, one of his pulpy images of a blond nurse sold for a record $8.4 million. Tonight, a brunette nurse in green, 'Doctor's Nurse,' was priced to sell for at least $1 million. Mr. Mugrabi got it for $1.7 million."

Maybe everyone is wrong. Maybe art isn't an economic indicator in the way we thought it was. I'm now almost completely convinced that these healthy prices should scare us. Instead of "shaking off the recession," the wealthy are hunkering down and the rest of us are all 10 different kinds of screwed.

"The auction house said it might have been too 'intellectual'; private dealer Richard Polsky said the piece was simply overpriced."

Bottom line on the Christie's and Sotheby's art auctions: no to Basquiat, yesyesyes to Warhol. But is it "a gear-changing sign that the art market is shaking off the recession" really? Or simply rich people looking for a safe place to put their cash during a still-very-much-in-progress cluster? Either way, the big winner seems to be "a Connecticut woman named Cathy Naso, who once worked as a typist in Warhol's Factory and had kept the painting [a Warhol self-portrait] out of sight for decades." Sold for $6.1 million.

Elsewhere on the WSJ arts page, hey there's George Steel! City Opera reviews are mixed so unfortunately for everyone in Dallas, the schadenfreude potential is somewhat limited. Balls!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Sean Salisbury's lawsuit against Deadspin is now officially interesting

Although I can't decide if it's because he just added the site's editor as a defendant -- smart interview there, kid -- or because the McKinney paper is the one breaking all the news.

The Dallas Morning News chooses their ad agency as best place to work in Dallas-Ft Worth. I see no conflict whatsoever.

Congratulations Richards Group!

I know: others will be cynical. Yes, the agency may still list the Morning News as a current client and yes, all newspapers these days may be starved for ad revenue. So what! I see no reason -- none at all! -- to doubt the objective and highly scientific selection process.

Oh X

An American Airlines update from Dustin Curtis: "A FEW MONTHS AGO, I wrote an article expressing my displeasure with American Airlines‘ hideous online presence. I also spent some time mocking up a redesigned version of their website. To my surprise, a user experience designer at emailed me an amazing response describing some of the design problems faced in large corporations. You should read...the response from Mr. X here. An hour after I posted the response, American Airlines fired Mr. X."

Well. Them's rules. But it's a shame. Mr X's comments are only minimally negative. He seems to be genuinely trying to engage, honestly, with someone who had a bad experience. And I especially liked this bit: "simply doing a home page redesign is a piece of cake. You want a redesign? I’ve got six of them in my archives. It only takes a few hours to put together a really good-looking one, as you demonstrated in your post. But doing the design isn’t the hard part, and I think that’s what a lot of outsiders don’t really get.... But those of us who work in enterprise-level situations realize the momentum even a simple redesign must overcome."

Friday, November 06, 2009

I may well be the only one who cares about this

Suddenly Roger Friedman's Showbiz 411 has been redesigned to look almost exactly like TMZ which is funny because much of what Friedman posts is written as a counterpoint to many things reported -- or, as Friedman would probably put it, "reported" -- on TMZ. A search of Showbiz 411 for the phrase "TMZ you ignorant slut" turned up nothing but I'm sure it's in there somewhere.

Could Gap possibly have turned this thing around?

October: not too shabby for retailers. "Particularly encouraging were the gains at Nordstrom and Gap, whose clothing is pricier...than what wallet-conscious shoppers would typically spring for." Remember when things seemed so hopeless for Gap? I myself had an unhealthy obsession with the subject.

Maybe I'll transfer my attention to Abercrombie & Fitch who "was one of the bigger disappointments, logging a steeper-than-expected 15 percent decline." Yeah, they lowered prices but they're still mean -- a quality they seem to be proud of. Interesting.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

OK, this really is the last Halloween thing. Maybe.

Among the very few advertising-inspired costumes of 2009, Billy Mays was expected; the Money You Could Be Saving With Geico was genius.

Too Californian to fail

William Voegeli in the LATimes: "Between April 1, 2000, and June 30, 2007, an average of 3,247 more people moved out of California than into it every week, according to the Census Bureau. Over the same period, Texas had a net weekly population increase of 1,544....According to a report issued earlier this year by the consulting firm McKinsey & Co., Texas students 'are, on average, one to two years of learning ahead of California students of the same age,' even though per-pupil expenditures on public school students are 12% higher in California. The details of the Census Bureau data show that Texas not only spends its citizens' dollars more effectively than California but emphasizes priorities that are more broadly beneficial. Per capita spending on transportation was 5.9% lower in California, and highway expenditures in particular were 9.5% lower, a discovery both plausible and infuriating to any Los Angeles commuter."

Voegeli elaborates in the City Journal: "Aside from Louisiana and Mississippi, which lost population to other states because of Hurricane Katrina, California is the only Sunbelt state that had negative net internal migration after 2000. All the other states that lost population to internal migration were Rust Belt basket cases, including New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Michigan, and Ohio."

He's not arguing for lower taxes. Voegeli seems to believe that governments truly can act responsibly with huge sums of money even though he sees very little evidence of that. For Californians, this seems especially damning: "States that have grown accustomed to thinking of the engine that drives their economies as an inexhaustible resource—whether it’s Michigan and the auto industry, New York and Wall Street, or California and the vision of the sunlit good life that used to attract new residents—find it tough to compete again for what they thought would be theirs forever, and to plan budgets for lean years that turn into lean decades. Instead, they invest their hopes in a deus ex machina that will rescue them from the hard choices they dread."

The two articles together really could be used as campaign ads for Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Monday, November 02, 2009

"There is nothing that kills creativity more than bitterness"

I think there's a lot to learn from in this Jay Leno interview. Also, did you realize that, in terms of total viewers, he averages about the same number as he did in his old timeslot? I didn't.

It's always kinda puzzling to me how Leno is regarded by critics, like he and his audience must be complete idiots. I don't know. After reading this, I feel like he's enormously gracious, certainly more savvy than he's ever given credit for. Here's your Terry-Malloy-just-put-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other quote: "I see other people fall by the wayside, drugs, alcohol, too straight, too gay; whatever problem it is, I try to keep myself level-headed, and that's how you do it. If I have any strength at all in this business, it's the ability to keep going forward under tremendous pressure and under tremendous body shots, and that's where your advantage is. I know you said you didn't believe me, but I do take a certain perverse pleasure in this. See how low you can go, rock bottom, before you can keep crawling back up again."

Everybody has one

Opinions on the new Levi's campaign: compare, contrast.

I'd like to add some of my own thoughts but right now I'm too mesmerized by the Sears Craftsman NEXTEC Hammerhead Auto Hammer. Why couldn't they work just one or two more brands into the product name?

Sunday, November 01, 2009

One last Halloween thing

Martha C. White is the least fun person in all the world: "as the Great Home Equity Cashout hit its stride, our preferred flavor of spooky turned commercial. We had the money to blow and we believed marketers who told us we needed inflatable lawn mummies. Last year, we spent $5.77 billion, compared with $2.5 billion in 1995. Much was made of this continued increase, since the holiday came on the heels of an economic catastrophe. And last year was a turning point -- because this year we've spent 15 percent less."

Her figures for this year seem based on predictions not actual sales numbers so I think her real point is that she doesn't approve of adults spending all that money. And lo: "This scaling-back of the more commercial festivities surrounding Halloween is a good indication that the holiday will return to its roots as a low-key kids' day."

Where Seth Godin sees the true meaning behind the trend -- "the only holiday...where there is an arms race of creativity" -- Martha C White finds just a bunch of crass, contemptible people with too much disposable income. She isn't much of a thinker, is she?

Hell with real or perceived racial insensitivity; isn't that Derek Holland?

I think so. Kinda funny Deadspin wouldn't mention that.

And if it is Holland: crap. Shouldn't he be back home in Newark, Ohio, eating Wheaties and running wind sprints? The way that guy pitched in those last seven games? Remember? Yeah. Step away from the cheerleader.

NEXT DAY UPDATE: Wait. What did Deadspin do with their original post? I removed the link, which now redirects you. The Dallas Cowboys cheerleader photos and the comments that discussed how lame the original post was? Those are gone. But they kept the newer post that references the cheerleader photos, so you know.

AND: Now KRLD 1080 AM has the photos, which is interesting when you consider that they're a sister station to the Cowboys' flagship 105.3 FM as well as home to the Rangers' radio broadcasts.

OK: It looks like Deadspin restored the original post. Whatever, right?

Friday, October 30, 2009

I hate Mark Teixeira

Just want to get that out there. I hate the Phillies too but I hate Mark Teixeira more. Although maybe I shouldn't. The Teixeira-to-Atlanta trade did get the Texas Rangers the impossibly named Saltalamacchio, the beautifully named Neftali Feliz and Elvis. Those guys are going to be fun to watch. Right up until the day they leave the Rangers, sign with the Dodgers/Yankees/Red Sox and get voted MVP of a World Series. Life is hard for Rangers fans.

Which may be why there is only one Texan interested in buying them.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Like they didn't even see the same show

Lumenick hates it. Friedman predictably loves it. I half-want to see This Is It, just out of curiosity, but I keep thinking of the rehearsal photos that were rushed out only days after Michael Jackson's death. He looked so emaciated that only people in Hollywood could seriously think he seemed "in great form."

"it was also an experiement to see if...pointed criticism worked on Twitter"

Hmmm: "if Twitter sanitized searches, that would make the site a more fake and less democratic place than it initially appears to be. Here we thought we were meeting bigshots in a virtual public square, and really it was maniuplated like the Truman Show."

Also, if Twitter does take special measures to shield celebrities from nasty comments, it's the perfect business model for our times.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Juan Pablo Montoya's paint scheme for Texas: will Bob Griese have a comment?

From Jayski: "Juan Pablo Montoya will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with a special paint scheme on his #42 Target Chevy for the Dickie's 500 at Texas Motor Speedway." That's November 8, which should be perfect timing.

Things that once seemed impossible

- A feel-good, family-focused Target campaign that purposefully, shamelessly imitates feel-good, family-focused WalMart campaigns

- Project Runway accused of homophobia

- Network news departments uniting to defend Fox News Channel

- Panties as outerwear. This is meant to be shocking and immodest but I think it's just the opposite. After all, if this look really does catch on with trend-conscious starlets, how are the paparazzi supposed to get a revealing crotch shot? Oh, those unexpected -- and prudish -- consequences!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"One writer informed the governor he was changing his driving plans to avoid the Lone Star State"

The reaction to Rick Perry's secession talk is highly amusing. But at least one person did not learn their Thelma & Louise lesson!

Halloween sales are low. Or high.

Forbes says sales are off but their story is based on forecasts not actual numbers -- and bizarrely focuses only on costume purchases.

According to other researchers, "Halloween sales are expected to reach a record-breaking $6 billion in 2009, up 4.2 percent from the $5.77 billion generated last year."

Halloween falls on a Saturday this year so I would have thought: more parties, more decorations. But I noticed that Garden Ridge had the sparsest, most disappointing selection ever (No SpookyTown!) and their merchandise seemed less gory and more Harvest Celebration-y. Michaels and Target, though, looked about the same as last year. I guess everyone had to choose which forecast to believe.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"'It's a lot of money he gave up'"

The guy whose Warhols were stolen has cancelled the $25 million insurance claim. Richard Weisman "simply couldn't stand the thought of insurance investigators poring through his personal records and interrogating his family and friends before he stood any chance of collecting." So no pay-out. And no reward for information leading to the return of the artwork.

Now, don't jump to any conclusions. Even though Weisman's alarm system wasn't activated when he left town before the theft. Even though his ex-wife and son had access to the house. Even though that access included the nanny. For the son. Who is 16. Even though Detective Don Hrycyk feels compelled to share this anecdote: "He said he recently solved another case involving five Warhols stolen in 1989. The thief in that case turned out to be the victim's son, who was 17 at the time and had sold the works for drugs and money, Hrycyk said. The thief has since become a prominent art-gallery owner." No. Jumping to conclusions here would be just plain rude.

But I do wonder who the 37-year-old "prominent art-gallery owner" is. And is claiming to be an art-theft victim some kind of new trend for the wealthy?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Oprah! In line for Fried Cookie Dough!

Photos here. I think her cowboy hat is cute.

Let's hope the weather stays clear for her show today. If you're there and it's cold, I highly recommend the deep-fried grilled cheese sandwich sold over near Big Tex. It's served with shoestring potatoes and tomato soup for dipping. Nine coupons! Darn good!

UPDATE: Via Unfair Park, my favorite Oprah photo from yesterday. She looks so happy. I don't even count myself as a fan but I am completely charmed by these images.

Friday, October 09, 2009

How long will you stand around for Oprah?

She'll be on the Chevy Main Stage at the State Fair which is a little disappointing. No chairs! No shade! Plus, it'll all but block access to the Fried Butter stand!

When you go, though, remember that Oprah will own your image forever: "If you and/or anyone accompanying you do not wish to be videotaped, photographed or recorded, PLEASE DO NOT ATTEND THE EVENT."

I wouldn't have sent Epperson home

Because Michael Kors and Nina Garcia have been absent for so many of this season's episodes, Project Runway's judging has been pretty erratic. It's also been completely obnoxious. It's like every judge has had mean-spirited bon mots written for them in advance -- by a staff -- in order to win precious minutes on-camera. This is such a huge mistake.

Yes, judges are important but it's the contestants we become emotionally attached to or repulsed by. As this season's Dancing With The Stars proves, dull contestants equal low ratings and outrageous judging antics can't save you. There's a lesson in here somewhere for American Idol producers. But they'll ignore it.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Why does Honda hate Big Tex?

I finally figured out why the State Fair Auto Show -- at least the foreign manufacturer side -- seems so sparse. No Honda cars. It can't be a budget consideration. Good God, Chrysler and GM are there. I'm guessing that Honda has research indicating that their buyers are doing something else besides attending the Fair. Although what that might be, I cannot imagine. It's the State Fair!

Also I now know why we can't have beautiful women on spinning stages: "You can thank, or blame, Margery Krevsky for transforming turntable Barbies at auto shows into walking, talking marketing mavens – and dudes – who also happen to be quite attractive. When a young, good-looking gal or guy offers to answer your questions at the Toyota, Nissan, Scion or Lexus sections at the fair, that person isn't a sales temp hired locally but a 'product specialist' working for Krevsky's suburban Detroit talent agency, Productions Plus Inc. Krevsky came up with the idea while attending a Detroit auto show in 1981. A model she often hired for her fashion show business was acting as a goddesslike hood ornament for a Cadillac. Krevsky was interested in buying one, but the model couldn't talk about the car until she went on break. What a waste of talent, Krevsky thought."

See? Krevsky thinks these people should be approachable. Like -- yes, the name that used to come up in every re-branding exercise -- Katie Couric. I'm amazed people still use that example. It really hasn't worked out so well for CBS.

Oh! I miss glitz. If the outdoor Truck Zone can display those vehicles suspended from above, climbing a 90-degree incline or in any manner of overly macho scenarios, why can't I have models in evening gowns and tiaras? A little escapist glamour? Would that be so terrible?

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Why is Britney doing so much shopping at Target these days?

In Dallas. In LA. And again the next day. Is this what famous people do when they're not allowed to go to nightclubs anymore?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"Prostitution is unusual in University Park, Sgt. Bill Mathes said."

A Park Cities woman is arrested for prostitution -- and may "face additional charges relating to city code violations for running a business out of her house." What made everyone so suspicious? "Unlike the manicured lawns of other homes in the neighborhood, Martinez's partially covered by overgrown shrubs and trees." Well! Obviously a whore!

Baz Luhrmann seldom answers a question

Still, I'm kinda obsessed with this interview, particularly his description of Dancing With The Stars: "the thing about all these shows is that they are fantastic arenas of popular culture. Dance is a joyous thing. Seeing a kung fu wrestler dancing, there’s something incredibly human and wonderful about that, and everyone has an opinion about what constitutes good and bad dancing."

What would you name the newly discovered 500-carat diamond?

Because a name is key for any legendary gemstone -- the Black Prince's Ruby (which is a spinel but never mind!), the Star of India and my all-time personal favorite, the Taylor-Burton diamond. Romance, intrigue, power, maybe a hint of tragedy -- it all has to be in there, doesn't it? Ideally? Although, in a way, maybe the bar isn't too high here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thank you, Disney, for coordinating your multiplatform promotional tools to perfectly meet the viewing needs of your Dallas audience

Michael Irvin's Dancing With The Stars routine ended just as Hank Williams' Monday Night Football intro started up. Genuis.

And speaking of Dancing: Baz Luhrmann! The Muppet Show theme! Donnie Osmond and fleeting camera shots of his clone/son! Almost too much genius!

Monday, September 28, 2009

I always cry at sham weddings

Congratulations Khloe and Lamar! Hope you're raking in more money and more freebies than Star Jones and whats-his-name!

How long did you wait in line for the fried butter?

I recommend going early. Because by about 1:30 or so, Nimitz Drive is backed up. All the scary health stories have only succeeded in creating more demand and making Abel Gonzales a folk hero.

Other State Fair notes: this year's car show is kinda depressing. The Centennial Building with the foreign manufacturers has fewer cars and fewer lookers than I ever remember. The Auto Building, with Chrysler, GM and Ford, is crowded but lacks any big attraction. Clearly, what's needed here is more spinning stages. Maybe a few women in evening gowns. I know big-time glamour and showmanship might be impossible post-bailout but if I ran Ford I would go for serious glitz. After all, slightly more women than men attend the State Fair car show. Why not go red-carpet with it? Thank goodness for the outdoor Truck Zone.

Whatever you do, though, you must visit the livestock barns. Personal fave: Santa Gertrudis. They're big ol' things.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The advertising deal in the healthcare bill

I guess Senator Carper just made it official yesterday but yes, the pharma lobby is funding pro-healthcare legislation advertising.

The LA Times mentioned the deal last month: "If a package passes Congress, the pharmaceutical industry has pledged $80 billion in cost savings over 10 years to help pay for it. For his part, [chief pharma lobbyist Billy] Tauzin said he had not only received the White House pledge to forswear Medicare drug price bargaining, but also a separate promise not to pursue...importing cheaper drugs....[D]rug companies -- Washington's leading source of lobbyist money -- now have 'a seat at the table' at the White House and on Capitol Hill as healthcare legislation works its way through Congress. If nothing else, a popular president who six months ago criticized drug companies for greed now praises their work on behalf of the public good... Tauzin's trade association, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, is helping to underwrite a multimillion-dollar TV advertising campaign touting comprehensive healthcare legislation."

Here's what I wonder: every so often, you hear someone say that drug companies should not be allowed to advertise directly to consumers. This is an attractive argument mostly because no one likes to watch a Flomax commercial. But the reasoning seems to be that pharma ads encourage patients to ask for drugs they don't need. I've never agreed. Never. But I understand the point. Now, do you hear anyone opposing pharma's right to fund political ads? For or against any piece of legislation or any candidate? If drug companies shouldn't talk directly to consumers, should their lobbying organization be allowed to talk directly to voters? Also, how comfortable is everyone with an ad budget being part of a politician-industry deal? Especially right when new FDA ad regulations are being considered?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Why did Chef Blythe Beck go to the spa at the Stoneleigh?

I have to admit that I ended up liking The Naughty Chef and the scene that won me over was Blythe Beck's visit to a spa. Very endearing of her -- a 29-year-old woman living in Dallas -- to admit it was her first spa experience. But why the cross-town Stoneleigh Hotel & Spa? Why not Hotel Palomar's Exhale? Do Beck's own neighbors not like her? Or is there some kind of paid promotional thing going on? In which case: Yay Dallas food & hospitality industry! I think.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What to watch

Should I tune into Dancing With The Stars to see if Debi Mazar learns Michael Irvin's real last name? Or should I watch Dallas chef Blythe Beck's new show? If I do watch Chef Blythe Beck, will I feel empowered by a confident, accomplished woman who just happens to be plus-sized, or will the mere sight of a fat person serving up fried food cause me to eat my way to "OBESITY and DIABETES!"

I guess these food debates are important. They never seem to come up, though, when a fat male chef is involved. Is Gwyneth the only one who notices?

(OH! I have to thank Bill Green for the programming heads-up. Otherwise you know what I'd be doing? Yeah.)

Roger Friedman wishes you would behave in front of his friends

The Hollywood Reporter's Roger Friedman -- who might or might not have attended, it's unclear -- is a little surprised that Metropolitan Opera fans actually have opinions: "they booed last night at the end of Luc Bondy’s premiere production of Puccini’s 'Tosca.' The stuffed shirts didn’t boo the actors, but the production team — Bondy, et al. So rude! The old guard opera types didn’t like the new, modern production ordered."

Here is why Friedman is incensed: "This was not the night to show off bad behavior to guests in the house — namely a raft of stars and boldfaced names who came to celebrate the opening of the opera season. This group ranged from...Edward Norton to Mischa Barton, Zac Posen." Yes, Mischa, as the very model of decorum, might have been shocked by such raucous conduct. Watch yourselves, opera fans! Crap like that from stuffed shirts like you can really put a damper on an after-party! Also, don't forget to keep buying season tickets, participating in the fundraisers and donating during the broadcasts on your local PBS channel.

Even if the staging is awful.

GIGGLY NEXT DAY UPDATE: Page Six reports that "things were topsy-turvy at the screening of Michael Moore's 'Capitalism: A Love Story'....Our spy said, 'Mischa Barton showed up and was asking for tickets. She started walking the red carpet....took one look around and realized she was in the wrong place.' Barton finally ran across the street to attend the Met Opera's opening of 'Tosca.'"

But if designers are starting collaborations with eBay, is there any reason left to go to Target?

From the Wall Street Journal: Narciso Rodriguez has "signed a deal with eBay Inc. to create a line that will be sold exclusively through the online marketplace. Ebay, more known for bargains than luxury, will start selling the line in the spring. The line, 'Narciso Rodriguez for eBay,' is a first for eBay.... The clothes will sell for less than $350."

There's something about Rodriguez that I really admire. He's resisted the normal Michael Kors/Ralph Lauren/Tommy Hilfiger route of name-licensing and brand-building: "'There's such a glut of mass [merchandise] and there is so much fast fashion....smaller companies, true designers...that's who the true designer customer wants to buy.' Mr. Rodriguez says that he is not opposed to adding more products, such as accessories and expanding further into fragrance or other beauty items. But, he says, he is looking for the right partner and wants to personally supervise design and production rather than having those functions outsourced. And though he's looking for a partner, he isn't interested in collaborating with a low-priced fast-fashion chain, as so many other designers have, because he believes the clothes that result from the partnerships end up being the retailer's vision rather than the designer's."

Yes. If you are OK with being a little less famous, a little less wealthy and a little less likely to host a failing basic cable show, you really can wield more control.

What was worse for Michael Irvin?

That he's tied for the lowest men's score on Dancing With The Stars or that fellow contestant Debi Mazar called him Michael Irvine? Oh well. Mazar also said he was "hot" so it's not a total loss.

I thought both Irvin and Tom DeLay were surprisingly entertaining. Much more fun to watch than George Hamilton's son (who actually does not have a name, or career, other than "George Hamilton's son"), that little snowboarder or the very awake Chuck Liddell. Early judges' darling: Iron Chef guy. Obviously.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Is Oprah the biggest thing to happen to the State Fair since Elvis?

Hmm. Let's think for a minute. No. But close. And exciting. Oprah!

She'll have to do her show in the Cotton Bowl, won't she? The band shell is home to the bird show, the Chevy Main Stage isn't grand enough and the Hall of State -- which would be beautiful -- will be filled with something 5 people care about. Has to be the Cotton Bowl.

Oprah at the State Fair! Yay!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Even in the middle of a recession, even with reduced tax revenue, it's important to have standards

That big bulldozed plot at Walnut Hill and Central will not change anytime soon because its developers are facing foreclosure. I don't think anyone's surprised by that. It's not exactly a good time for commercial real estate right now.

Still, this is North Dallas. "'I’m shocked,' said David Westbrook, president of the Meadows Neighborhood Association....Westbrook said homeowners in the area fought hard to keep the property from being used for large discount retailers and high-rise buildings that would overlook nearby residential areas. 'It’s going to be even more important now that we got that zoning in place,' he said. “We want to get some high quality retail in there – nothing big box.'" Of course not, Mr Westbrook! Nothing big box! Or revenue-producing. And good luck with the high quality retail!

Why is the criticism of Jay Leno always so bitter?

Read the Washington Post review and tell me who gets slammed harder, Leno or his audience: "Leno's funny, but in the safest way. He's adheres [sic] to the center of the exact middle road, so it's wrong to expect a revolution here. He has all the draw of buy-one-get-one-free smoothies. His comedy is bubble-wrap; its appeal needs no explaining. He goes with Dan Brown novels and Marriott Rewards points and repeat viewings of the cinchy CBS crime procedurals he now finds himself programmed against: Who doesn't like all of those things? And who won't watch Jay when nothing else is on, or when the nurse won't come change the channel?"

USAToday called it "a cut-rate, snooze-inducing, rehashed bore.....If you found Leno's routine amusing before, you probably found it amusing Monday night. And given his propensity for repeating jokes, you'll probably find it amusing Tuesday night as well."

You'd think that Leno had pushed the Philco Television Playhouse off the air. Or maybe everyone's just really eager to take all those jokes about Matlock viewers and recycle them as criticisms of Leno's audience. I don't know. I'm not even a Leno fan but there's a genuine personal nastiness about the commentary I don't get.

Monday, September 14, 2009

"People are going to see he's amazing and smart"

The rehabilitation of Vince the ShamWow Guy has begun. It will include swimwear but not alcohol.

Keeping up with job descriptions

There might be a helpful bit of job counseling buried in this NYPost story: "ACORN workers were not the slightest bit judgmental or put off by the request for help in getting financing for a brothel. Counselor Volda Albert freely offered financial advice to the young couple....For tax and banking purposes, and to establish a legitimate income and credit history, Giles was told she needed to start saying she was a 'freelancer.' 'Don't say that you're a prostitute thing or whatever.'"

This is an alarming development. For actual freelancers. Is there a new, more accurate term to use? You certainly don't want to confuse anyone or set any, you know, unrealistic expectations. To be absolutely clear, maybe you should say that you're an advertising thing. Or whatever.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I win again!

Although I'm not exactly proud to be so familiar with Rachel Zoe and her feet.

By the way, I don't think she's truly pigeon-toed. I think it's an affectation, a carefully practiced pose that she must think makes her look even more fashionably waifish. Hmm. What does it remind me of?

Does Vince Young have a friend left in this world?

Seeing him alone on the bench during tonight's game is kinda breaking my heart. I know. I know. Still. Longhorns have a national championship because of Vince Young. And he is in large part responsible for Governor Rick Perry's most craven moment yet. Which is definitely saying something.

"He knows what happened here today."

The City Hall/Don Hill corruption trial is obviously compelling -- maybe now, no one will take the stand in his own defense ever again -- but equally remarkable to me is how Jim Schutze can write so well on the fly. He's posting his updates in an instant, court-transcriber way, and still the excellent pacing and sense of story-telling are there:

[Prosecutor Marcus] Busch is walking it in.

Busch is talking about the fact that there was community opposition to more multi-family housing in Southern Dallas. Busch says, “On October 27, 2004, five people spoke out against Laureland, one of them Carol Brandon [a plan commissioner].”

But on that same day, Darren Reagan’s opposition to the project evaporated (he had called for a six-month moratorium on multi-family) after Bill Fisher signed a contract with Reagan. Hill agrees he voted in favor of the project

“The very next day, Darren Reagan gives you $10,000s and tells you it had to do wIth Bill Fisher.”


Busch lets it sit there. The courtroom is silent.


For a good 45 seconds, an eon, you could hear a pin drop.

Of course, the Dallas Morning News has coverage too. It lacks a little something though.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Stop pretending that you don't want to try the fried butter

It's going to be great.

The Indiana Jones of gemologists? The John Wayne of jewels? Is this a screenplay waiting to be ruined?

They're never going to arrest all the people responsible for Campbell Bridges' murder, are they? What a mess.

Reading about Bridges now, he seems almost like a serious real-life version of Dos XX's most interesting man in the world. Exploring Africa. Fighting off cape buffalo. Discovering gems. He was certainly too good for 70s ad men to pass up: "Soon after bringing tsavorite to the attention of gemologists in the U.S. in the early 1970s, Mr. Bridges became the stone's foremost pitchman. He appeared in the 1970s in ads from Tiffany & Co. touting 'the brilliant green gemstone that is far more durable and far less expensive than emeralds.' Before Mr. Bridges discovered the mineral, which was named for the Tsavo national parks near where his mine was located, 'only giraffes and other African animals knew about tsavorite,' the ads claimed." Story-telling has always been important.

And people can't stop romanticizing Bridges. "In the U.S., Mr. Bridges was retained as a consultant by Henry B. Platt, president of Tiffany, which bought quantities of...another gemstone Mr. Bridges specialized in, blue-purple tanzanite." If you've ever watched a home shopping show for even a minute, you know about tanzanite. It's rare! Buy it now! Too pricey? Go for the tanzanique. The simulant of our lifetime!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

It's about 92 degrees outside. Doesn't that always put you in the mood for a pumpkin spice latte?

I actually like Starbucks but their fall drinks promotions -- which they always roll out September 1st -- always depress me. There's no autumnal chill in Dallas in September. Or in October. So I'm not going to want any hot cider or pumpkin pie drinks until about December. This isn't New Hampshire.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

What are we going to do without Hal McCoy?

Hal McCoy wrote the very first baseball book I ever bought, a 1975 tribute to the World Series winners called The Relentless Reds. He has been around for every baseball season I can remember. Even though the team he covers now is abysmal, his column and his blog are still a lot of fun. It's occurred to me a lot of times, as I read his little anecdotes from the road, that he'd make a great travel writer or at least
food critic, that is, if you're like me and prefer food critics who don't seem all that concerned with fat content.

But as he already told us, Dayton Daily News Hall-of-Fame Baseball writer Hal McCoy is being forced to retire after this year. I still don't understand why or how. I only keep hoping there's some way he ends up in a new forum. The MLB network -- where, because they aren't ESPN, baseball writers can be informative and amusing instead of outrageous and clownish -- would be perfect. I'm not sure how that would happen but it seems like it has to. How can anyone pass up a guy who's so well-liked, who has such a wealth of knowledge and experiences? I don't know. I just know that I'm not at all ready to say goodbye to Hal McCoy.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hey I think that Richardson girl was this week's Project Runway winner

Yay! Although it is with sadness that I have to admit I didn't watch. Oh Project Runway, it's true: you left me alone for too long and I found another love.

Of course -- of course -- there's an official Cowboys Stadium tequila

Bill Green just sent me the news: "recently constructed Cowboys Stadium is proud to show off their new fan favorite, The Cowboyrita: a premium blended margarita made with 100 percent blue agave Hornitos Reposado Tequila. Available at all Cowboys Stadium events during the 2009-2010 season, the Cowboyrita is ready to add a bit of mischief to game-time."

As I said to Bill, "you know, for a team that has put up with everyone from Michael Irvin to PacMan to Jessica Simpson, I don't know if 'mischief' is something we need more of."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Surprisingly, my neighborhood does not have the nation's highest concentration of payday loan stores

But what the hell is going on with South Carolina?

"'Abercrombie has mismanaged this economic downturn more than any other retailer'"

Wow TIME magazine. That's a pretty brutal article.

It was only 2 years ago TIME wrote a love letter to J Crew's Mickey Drexler, in part, for "avoiding the race to the bottom by refusing to woo price-conscious consumers and sell ever cheaper clothes made with ever cheaper labor--a trend driven by discounters like Wal-Mart and Kohl's." Now? Abercrombie gets castigated for not joining the race to the bottom: "As the economy spiraled downward and competitors like AĆ©ropostale started discounting like crazy, Abercrombie refused to lower prices. The company insisted that price-cutting would cheapen the cachet of the brand." I know. The recession changed everything. But that should have been the point -- that no one really has the answers and that the true overarching problem is "the Abercrombie vibe, which seems pretty tone-deaf to the times." Pricing was just a symptom.

And I wonder if this is right: "'Retailers don't realize that consumers are spending less and doing O.K. with it.'" Really? We're doing OK? That include those 16%?

ADDED: Re-reading that story, I think TIME uses "vibe" to mean in-store experience. But, to me, "vibe" means everything from company culture to an ability to get trends right to hiring practices.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Happy birthday Elvis

Elvis Andrus is 21 years old today. Isn't he fun to watch? Yeah he is!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Kept my clunker

The radio is permanently stuck in the "on" position, which annoys me more than any mileage number. I couldn't see giving it up. And that kinda makes me feel like some kind of anti-establishment radical. Wooo-hooooo.

The trouble with boxing is that people actually pay attention to Paulie Malignaggi

Before anyone tries to cast Paulie Malignaggi as some sort of courageous truth-teller, it's helpful to remember that he once wore hair extensions into the ring. With predictable results. Who does that? I'll tell you who: someone who tirelessly works the showmanship angle in order to conceal his own big bag of nothing and who gets rewarded for it time and again with big name fights and televised bouts. Can we stop caring now?

It's all glamour and romance until someone gets killed by a spear-wielding mob

Sad news: "Campbell Bridges, a renowned British gemstone mine owner, has been murdered in the Kenyan bush by a gang of illegal prospectors armed with machetes, spears and bows and arrows. Mr Bridges, 71, was stabbed repeatedly after he and his son Bruce were ambushed as they drove on Tuesday to their mine, 190 miles southeast of Nairobi. The murder was the culmination of a three-year battle with squatters stealing rare tsavorite gems, first discovered more than 40 years ago by Mr Bridges, a senior jewel consultant with Tiffany and Company in New York."

The murderers seem to be very well-connected. Despite "a court last month confirming that his mining licence was valid and approving his prospecting rights, he had recently come up against powerful local figures who wanted him off his mine, Bruce Bridges said....'We told the police all about it, but they didn't do anything, we're pretty sure they were being ordered to drag their heels by the higher-ups.'"

Why didn't Bridges carry a firearm or travel with armed security? Are the "powerful local figures" part of the government? Is this an unofficial/official takeover? What does it mean for new discoveries?

Friday, August 21, 2009

You too can have big Texas hair

Tonight on QVC: hairdo by Ken Paves & Jessica Simpson. Will the Cowboys game end in time to tune in and place an order? (Is that awkward?) It's awfully tempting: "easy-to-use, affordable, clip-in hair extensions, wigs, bangs and bands for a virtually undetectable look. Available in both synthetic and fine, human hair."

Virtually undetectable! But is it timely?

"[Dallas Mayor Tom] Leppert has the most sophisticated coordinated political patronage organization this city has ever seen"

And it's "presided over by people whose names have come up in this trial." More city hall corruption trial coverage from Jim Schutze.

Here's something Schutze wrote after another trial over 9 years ago: "The lesson that should have come out of the Al Lipscomb trial in Amarillo -- the unmistakable lesson for the jury -- is that Dallas is a profoundly corrupt city." Which is interesting enough but then I got to this part: "Judge Kendall released court documents that showed that the owner of a local topless club had been given immunity in return for testifying that he had paid Lipscomb to call the cops off his place...Did we hear anything more about this? Was this ever settled? Did anyone ever suggest we might need to get to the bottom of this?....Are we at all worried about the fact that this matter seems to involve our new police chief, Terrell Bolton?"

Oh yeah: Bolton. After he was eventually fired from the Dallas Police Department, whatever in the world happened to him?

Every little thing Schutze writes is worth paying attention to. I can't stop hitting refresh.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

But of course, with the Rangers, happiness is never real, never lasting

Is it a cursed franchise? Have you ever heard of anything this ridiculous? "This is a team being bankrolled by Major League Baseball (that didn’t happen here, even in the dark days of the late 80s) while a buyer is being sought, and finding a buyer has become a slow process due to MLB and Hicks insisting on a $600 million price....Are there any groups? Even one at $600 million? Only Bud Selig knows. Meanwhile, the Rangers, as a baseball team, are hanging in financial limbo, operating at the whim of other major league owners who can’t be too pleased about bankrolling the Rangers....The Rangers couldn’t sign [Top draft pick Matt] Purke because Selig shut off the bidding, probably at the suggestion of other owners."

It gets worse: "The Rangers did make a $4 million offer to Purke, but without the approval of MLB. When the final word came down from MLB, the Rangers were told they could not pay the kid more than $2.3 million. Period. Since Hicks no longer has the purse to control the purse strings, he has no say. And he also asked Tuesday not to be quoted publicly on any of this stuff, although his paid mouthpiece blogged in sympathy for Tom."

Who could be the paid mouthpiece? Oh.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Oh em gee oh em gee

Pudge is back with the Rangers! He's my favorite active player! He's back. And he'll play in games that matter. In August. In Texas! I can't breathe.

"This trial is about everything."

Jim Schutze's coverage of the city hall corruption trial is great and sickening all at once. And that's even before Sandra Crenshaw chimes in.

I wish Nora Ephron would quit wasting everybody's time

All her movies kinda suck. Not completely suck -- there'd be a camp value in that -- but kinda suck in that you always leave the theater thinking how much better it could have been. A film version of My Life In France could have had so much magic. Instead Julie & Julia is sappy and dumb. And I would hardly say that Ephron "wisely included" Dan Aykroyd's 30-year-old SNL skit. It was actually a pretty cynical decision. Did it move the story along? Did the characters' reactions to it reveal anything about any of them? No. It only provided a laugh where Ephron's own writing couldn't.

Oh! And another thing: doesn't Ephron's movie sorta belittle 9/11 victims? All those people, with their dead relatives and their damaged lungs, seemed like Julie's two-dimensional self-obsessed friends -- they merely existed to make our heroine sad! See? Ephron really does kinda suck.

Do you know anyone who actually drinks Lone Star Beer?

Me neither. But the billboards are all over, with headlines supposedly written by real Texans, and there's the Indie Bash coming up. Isn't Lone Star Beer owned by Pabst? Is the billboard series mainly -- only -- aimed at out-of-staters?

Friday, August 07, 2009

So that's what happened to Bailey Banks & Biddle

I didn't realize that Zale "sold the Bailey Banks & Biddle chain to Finlay Enterprises Inc. in 2007.... Finlay filed for bankruptcy protection this month and is liquidating." So the NorthPark store, which had been selling closeout jewelry, will now just go away. That's sad. I never knew that "Bailey Banks & Biddle was founded in 1832 in Philadelphia and claims to be the oldest U.S. jeweler. It has a rich history of designing government and military medals, including the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Congressional Medal of Honor, as well as the Great Seal of the United States."

Olay, the luxury brand

Hmmm: "P&G's fiscal fourth-quarter results Wednesday, showing a decline in sales...confirmed how much less defensive the company's business has become. It spent much of the past decade investing in high-growth businesses like beauty and divesting lower-growth staples like food. That has left the company exposed to recessionary conditions....Without a significant improvement in employment levels -- the timing of which is tough to predict -- sales growth in premium brands is unlikely to take off."

So much for a jobless recovery. I just hope this doesn't spell doom for Procter's Dolce & Gabbana line. Where else is a girl going to find Sicilian orange lipstick?

There kinda sorta is maybe good news: "Advertising could be one way to improve sales traction....P&G has said it wants to increase ad spending this fiscal year. But given its projection of flat to slightly positive earnings growth, P&G may be hesitant to be too aggressive."

Oh, for the days of $1.99 Vidal Sassoon shampoo. Things were simpler then. Weren't they?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The man who can talk his way into any job

Isaac Mizrahi's new partnership with QVC: "The show...will be a significant departure from the standard sell of cable shopping channels. Part pitch, part reality television, it will follow Mr. Mizrahi around as he pitches items like a $200 handbag or $80 shoes while he engages in his other activities, riffs extemporaneously about his life and takes questions from callers." And this is how he got the job: "Doug Howe, chief merchandising officer of QVC, says he was fascinated by the way Mr. Mizrahi spoke, leaping from tea patterns to sheets then rain boots. 'We were just sitting there watching him talk, thinking, "My God! On air, you are going to resonate so strongly with our consumers!"' Mr. Howe says." I assume by "resonate" he means "grate on their nerves." Oh! Am I being too hard on Mizrahi? Yes. That is my way. But Mizrahi is no Ellen. And didn't everyone all ready get their fill of an Isaac show?

Friedman or TMZ: Whose anonymous sources are less crazy?

Even though TMZ broke the news of Michael Jackson's death -- what shocked me that day was hearing CBS radio refer to TMZ as a "reliable news source in the past" -- their post-death coverage has been a little iffy. At least that's what Roger Friedman would have us believe. Hmm. I watch Larry King so I know this is the most critical event in our nation's history. But who to trust? TMZ has sources inside the LAPD, which the department itself confirmed when they announced an investigation into the leaked Rihanna police photo. Harvey Levin used to be a KCBS investigative reporter. It's logical he'd have police connections.

But Friedman has been covering Michael Jackson for years. Even when no one wanted to talk about it, Friedman scanned mind-numbing financial records and served up insidery Jackson family news. Who are his sources? Impossible to tell. Although he's always complimentary of Debbie Rowe and seems especially taken with Jermaine's singing.

If only Friedman had his own TV show, then I could decide who to believe!

"Agencies Gird for Rough Round of Meetings After Exec Trashes Their Work"

That's news? Even by AdAge standards?

Look, there's plenty about Bob Lutz to criticize but this article just seems so goddamn petty: "GM's new marketing top gun, Bob Lutz, met with the automaker's brand teams on July 14, spent 10 to 20 minutes critiquing the work for each brand and, in the words of someone in the know, 'crapped all over the advertising.' Then he jetted off to the Caribbean island of Montserrat on holiday, leaving some scared individuals in his wake."

I can't decide if AdAge wants me to be upset that agency work got rejected or outraged that someone's taking a nice vacation during a recession. Sympathy? Class envy? And here I was, just looking for some insight. I can't get worked up about any of it other than to wonder who, since only two people actually agree to provide their names and comments to AdAge, supplied the crap quote which is the only attention-getter here. It'd be pretty funny if it were Lutz himself, imagining himself to be a Mad Men badass.

Maybe the real purpose of this article is to confirm that the new GM is actually "the same old management...shuffling the same old players." "Moribund corporate culture" and melodrama! And all of it funded by taxpayers, 41% of whom "expect the quality of GM cars to get worse now that the federal government is the company's majority owner" and who are turning to Fords.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Oh that's what Prince wrote

A few hours after watching Jay Leno -- with guests Billy Crystal and Prince -- I turned on Red Eye and saw Billy Zoom. O the nostalgia! My head almost exploded. And I couldn't help thinking that if you had asked me back in 1986 who of all those guys would age least gracefully, I would never have chosen Crystal. He seemed so real. Now? With no gray hair and a puffy face? Eh.

The Hope Diamond, the Star of India, the Crunk Ain't Dead necklace

In a way, this Wall Street Journal story is funny: "The recession is cramping the style of hip-hop artists and wannabes -- many of whom are finding it difficult to afford the diamond-encrusted pendants and heavy gold chains they have long used to project an aura of outsized wealth." And in a way, it isn't. I mean, this is someone's version of the American dream we're talking about.

What I wonder about, though, is if anyone will use this situation to flip the image of luxury jewelry. To play up the human rights abuse angle of the gem trade and equate jewelry with, say, wearing fur. Can gems ever become vulgar? Can wearing jewelry ever be repositioned as a sellout -- a betrayal of poor, oppressed people of color? Couldn't this stick, given that the most precious gems are often found in the world's most impoverished regions and mined by the world's most impoverished people? We all know about conflict-free diamonds and the Burmese ban but because gem-wearing ladies in Manhattan never get splashed with red paint, no one seems to care. Is human suffering not as compelling as animal suffering? Would the "environmental pollution" story play better? Are gems just too pretty? Or are hip-hop superstars just not that influential?

Friday, May 22, 2009

The bad news for Texas

No one likes our hair: "It looks like Jessica Simpson has broken her addiction to her longtime hairdresser. Ken Pave...usually insists on doing her hair for major shoots, but most magazines don't want to work with him because he's the king of 'Texas' hair, charges so much and isn't considered 'timely.'"

"14% of the folks moving out of California are moving to Texas"

I don't normally look to Ross Perot Jr for demographics info but that's a pretty interesting fact, right? Ooh! And here's a fun guessing game: "one major company is currently circling us, the CEO hunting for a mega million dollar pad –at least $40m."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dallasites: slightly more dancy than singy

The ratings: American Idol's "two-hour extravaganza averaged 504,868 D-FW viewers, falling just short of Tuesday night's elongated Dancing with the Stars finale on ABC (518,154 viewers)." Was it "the presence of Dallasite Melissa Rycroft as one of Dancing's three finalists?" Or was it the gorgeous French guy? (Hint: Gorgeous French guy.)


A sex shop? In the Park Cities? Do tell!

Also please note: the owner says that anything "offensive will be in the rear."

Whoopi Goldberg may be the only person left who's buying jewelry from a shopping channel

She's "addicted to" the Gem Shopping Network. Well, who isn't? That mirrored carousel is hypnotic! And "sphene" is fun to say! But other networks seem to be getting away from high-end jewelry: "Pilates equipment is in, diamonds are out....HSN customers, almost all of them women, are spending more on products they can use to improve themselves, use with their families, or can save them money.... Anything carrying a whiff of selfish indulgence tends to sell worse." ShopNBC "expects margins to improve this year as it...repositions its core jewelry business around more moderately priced items, with higher margins and broader appeal." And even though it's Gold Month on QVC -- I am so late getting my Gold Month greeting cards out -- they seem to spend much more time on Joan Rivers and Kenneth Jay Lane (and in the near future, possibly, horrifyingly Rachel Zoe).

But it's interesting to read what HSN thinks women are into now: Chief Executive Mindy Grossman "senses a desire among stay-at-home moms to become entrepreneurs. HSN will help launch a show this fall with Kelly Ripa and TV channel TLC called 'Mom Inc.' that features real-life moms inventing products."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Oh! American Idol's own creator wants it to be politicized.

For each finalist's second performance last night, Simon Fuller chose 60s protest songs. The hell? Those songs are beautiful and they may have relevance now but they're odd choices for a feel-good, celebratory, Cinderella-like evening featuring two really likable young guys. Why task them with message anthems? Didn't it kinda bring down the room?

It almost made the other TV finale watchable. Speaking of which, I offer ABC -- for free -- this idea for a hot new spinoff series: Dancing With the Gorgeous French Guy. Done right, no one would even fast-forward through the commercials.

The dumpster in front of the GrandStatlerHilton

Why is it there? Who's dumping stuff? What are they dumping? It's not the cool stuff, is it? I mean, they aren't touching the Mondrian windows, are they? And how does this fit in with that whole historic preservation effort?

I fear for this building. No one's going to throw money into a restoration now. And a new city-owned hotel at the other end of downtown will make the Grand seem even lonelier and more out of the way. It might be time to give up. There'll be no re-opening. No girls in mink chaps. Maybe all we can hope for is a really neat-o implosion. Or is the Grand too full of asbestos for that? Dammit!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Can we please not politicize American Idol?

Please? And is Lehane really wise or funny for name-dropping Dick Cheney -- Mary Cheney's dad -- in this matter? Besides, isn't every finale a study in contrasts -- Carrie vs Bo, David vs Archie, Jordin vs what's his name? If morality were truly an issue with viewers, unwed teen mom Fantasia would never have won.

At this point, if Adam loses, it might not have anything to do with values and everything to do with judges' favoritism, Katy Perry's cape and the kinda demeaning, dumb, sensationalist media coverage. Or with Kris' brains. Because that guy is smart.

Dov Charney won, didn't he?

It's doubtful that Woody Allen would have agreed to be part of an American Apparel ad campaign -- at least one running in US cities -- for any amount of money. So maybe it was evil-brilliant to simply use the image and have the insurance company pay out $5 million after the fact. Of course, Charney can't be content. He has to blather on, making 1st amendment claims, refuting charges of sexual harassment and generally creeping out everyone on the planet. Can't help himself.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Faith Popcorn's Wampum Economy

Is bartering truly a new development -- a reflection of our times -- or is everyone just now taking notice because of Faith Popcorn's press release to the world?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

"This classy take on chair dancing will leave you with a whole new respect for the chair"

Oh, how I envy the writer on the PoleLaTeaz account!

What it'll be like to work with a client who took bailout money

This WSJ story about Freddie Mac's David Kellerman is extraordinarily sad. And throughout, there are little glimpses of what the future will be like for everyone doing business with a bailed-out company: "the government conservatorship has made working at Freddie and Fannie even more trying, current and former employees say. No major decision involving hiring, firing, compensation or the pricing of mortgages can be made without prior approval from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates the two giants. Even fairly minor matters, such as decisions on whether to participate in panel discussions at conferences, require FHFA approval."

Is that what's in store for agencies who take on GM, Chrysler or bank work? Are there any agencies who will take on GM, Chrysler or bank work?

A criticism of Barbie that I failed to anticipate

Nylon's Katy Perry item is meant (I think) to be a tribute to the genius of Bob Mackie but then, in the comments, this happens: "you guys shoulndt even put something about the barbies… they are NOT earth friendly.. I know it has nothing to do with the post.. but at the same time you guys are giving publicity to one of the things that costs more to become biodegradable… it takes 100 years just one barbie.. to become please… just try not to post things that has to do with barbies.. no more publicity for those gurls..thanks"

The most surprising thing about the Dirk Nowitzki girlfriend story

He lives on Strait Lane? Doesn't that make him neighbors with H Ross Perot? Those block parties must be awesome.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

I become hypnotized whenever Tova Borgnine is on QVC

From Deep Glamour's Virginia Postrel:"more than just about any other genre of advertising, perfume ads traffic in glamour. You can't, after all, show a picture of a smell. Instead, you create an atmosphere that represents something about the dreams that smell promises to fulfill."

In print and in :30 TV, that's challenging enough. But it made me think of Tova Borgnine, who somehow manages to create a kind of atmosphere even on a bland set, just by talking slowly and spritzing a fragrance -- again and again -- in an arc over her head. Tova has a Gabor-sister sort of glamour but it's the spritzing motion that's key. It's a masterpiece of choreography. Have you seen it? (Click on "videos.") Mesmerizing. And apparently successful, since QVC bought the brand from her for seven figures a few years ago.

Also interesting is this question -- "is Unilever...cleverly packaging utilitarian deodorant as glamorous perfume?" Maybe so. Maybe this is the next logical step after Procter & Gamble sold lavender-scented detergents as aromatherapy.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Anybody want a do-over on the NorthPark expansion?

Have you noticed that the mall's Bailey Banks & Biddle now sells only closeout merchandise? They don't take checks. They don't allow returns. It feels so outlet store-ish. I guess, given the current retailing climate, that's better than a vacant space but still. It's NorthPark! Maybe they should have kept that old El Fenix and stayed little. And safe.

Did you hear? Tom Hanks sold the Mosquito Rodeo!

Your comments crack me up.

Friday, May 01, 2009

So would you want Tom Hicks involved in your political campaign?

Given his much-publicized current difficulties and given that his most famous financial move of all-time was signing ARod, are you better off passing up his support? I mean, on the one hand, having Tom Hicks as your treasurer might help you sue your opponent -- who maybe, kinda deserves it -- but it doesn't always help get you elected. (Ask Rudy.) You know? I think I'm starting to feel sorry for Mr Hicks. But not too much.

"Rodriguez, while playing in Texas, had a clubhouse attendant put toothpaste on his toothbrush after every home game."

Because Mr Hicks brought Alex Rodriguez to the Texas Rangers, it's nice to see him mentioned here: "Tom Hicks, the owner of the Rangers, is quoted in the book as saying that Rodriguez used to tell him 'negative things' about other players in baseball, including those he suspected of using steroids."

Then there's this: "The Rangers were also required to send a basket of food to the controversial All-Star's hotel suite during road trips....Many Texas teammates kept their distance from A-Rod, who they saw as a spoiled superstar."

The Mesquite Rodeo was not a good investment for Tom Hicks

Bought it for $10 million. Sells it for less a decade later. The city of Mesquite seems relieved.

I don't want to jump to conclusions or anything but I'm beginning to think Mr Hicks is a nice man who brings near ruin to any sports franchise he touches.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Words I don't want to read in a Barry Diller interview: "Edited for length and clarity"

Still the USAToday interview is worth reading, only so you can crap your pants out of sheer dread: "You're going to pay for information that you want. And you're going to pay directly, which means there's going to be either micropayments or subscriptions. Advertising in the new world order can't support much of hour-long drama is not going to exist at the multimillion-dollar production level and not in the current distribution scheme. For everybody in that world, you talk about creative destruction. General entertainment is absolutely going to change for all of us."

By the way, I simply don't believe that Barry Diller ever has to be edited for clarity. Saltiness, maybe, but never, ever clarity.

"Oh no! He ANSWERS!"

A bad omen for Adam Lambert.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Thursday, April 23, 2009

So what exactly is this "different consumer mind-set" that JCPenney has discovered?

They've raised their 1st-quarter outlook: "'We are preparing ourselves for a different consumer mind-set,' [CEO] Ullman said, pointing to what he called a permanent shift in shopping habits."

So, in response, "J.C. Penney is focused on stocking exclusive and private Allen B., Bisou Bisou, nicole by Nicole Miller and Fabulosity by Kimora Lee Simmons." OK. I guess that'll lure traffic. Anything else? "Penney is also putting hard-to-find sizes of major brands in stores to ensure that it does not lose out on customers." What does that mean? Are petites and plus sizes now critical to recession-proof retailing? Kinda interesting.

And then, because I hate the DFW Airport, there's this: "Penney moved its annual analyst meeting from Plano, Texas, where it is based, to New York this year, citing the recession's impact on many firms' travel budgets." I wonder. Would that be the case if there were more nonstop flights to Love Field?

I spent all evening driving around looking for a bar that served Earth Day drink specials

Isn't that the key? You can eradicate snakes or defeat European armies but it's an association with alcoholic refreshment that really transforms your day into something important.

(I only bring this up as a way to point out that, although the Cinco de Mayo Dos Equis radio seems less fun than other Most Interesting Man in the World spots, the crucial question might actually be: would you date him?)

ADDED: I've rewritten that first paragraph twice now and it's still stupid. Sorry.

Who will be the first to post a "Leave Peter Arnell alone" YouTube video?

He's a human! You're lucky he even performed for you bastards! But maybe that's not needed, as the post-Tropicana debacle Newsweek profile already provides its own Chris Cocker: "'Peter is an artist—he's a genius,' says Steve Stoute, a former partner at Arnell's firm who now runs a rival branding firm."

It's clear Daniel Lyons has his own impressions: "But when you spend some time around him, you quickly realize that (a) he's extremely insecure, (b) he knows this mess has damaged him and (c) he wants to move past this as quickly as possible. That's probably why he agreed to let me spend two days following him around."

After the two days? "I have a plane to catch. Which is a good thing—if I stay much longer I fear that my head might explode. Either that or I'll burst out laughing. After I leave it occurs to me that the way to understand Peter Arnell is to think of everything he does as a kind of high-stakes performance art. Not just the commercials and advertisements, but everything—the meetings, the memos, the celebrity phone calls, the crazy brainstorming genius shtick."

Have we gotten to a point in advertising when the performance art -- the schtick -- is seen as outdated? Even dumb? Yes?

ADDED: I anxiously await the debut of Arnell's Peapod -- "With no air conditioning and a top speed of 25 miles per hour, the $12,500 Peapod is basically a fancy golf cart. Arnell hopes people will buy them for doing errands around town. He wants to call customers 'peaple.'" Oh! And did I tell you that it was 90 degrees yesterday?