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?