Saturday, March 28, 2009

Saul Tigh! Here in Dallas! Oh Gods!

Michael Hogan will be at Sci-Fi Expo next month! I might go! I'm not using these exclamation points sarcastically! But: Romo Lampkin will be there too and probably talk and talk and talk and ruin the whole thing.


Vince the ShamWOW! guy and a hooker? What?

Who can you believe in anymore?

ADDED: It's gonna be awfully difficult to enjoy those commercials after seeing his mug shots. My gosh.

Crazy is overrated

I almost never watch basketball games from beginning to end except for NCAA tournament time and I think CBS is the reason why. With CBS broadcasts, there's no over-the-top studio personality. No totally outrageous game announcer. Minimal schtick. Isn't it refreshing? It's almost like they think the games are the real entertainment! So radical. Now that I think of it, isn't CBS the network that did away with sideline reporters on football broadcasts? That is radical. They've rejected the ESPN formula and opted for something genuinely different, crisper and overall more pleasant. It's not that I don't respect the careers of Chris Berman or Lee Corso or Bill Walton -- but they've become cartoon characters whose predictable antics kinda cheapen any event they cover. Greg Gumble is such a welcome relief from all that. Sure hope the tournament stays at CBS.

Friday, March 27, 2009

And then we all bought iPhones and kissed our privacy good-bye

I know. You're on top of things. You've already read this BusinessWeek article, digested its implications for cellphones users and marketers, and moved on but I'm not so sharp. I have to stop and make a note of some things:

A decade ago, during the dot-com and telecom boom, marketers extolled the potential of the mobile Web. They talked of zapping customers with digital coupons just as they passed nightclubs and caf├ęs....This vision fell flat in much of the world, largely for two reasons. First, the early Internet phones offered only rudimentary location-tracking and data service. More important, few customers wanted ads popping up on their phones, especially if they had to pay for them.

The promise of change arrived two years ago in a shiny stainless steel case with a touchscreen. Apple's iPhone, the first computer phone to score a hit among nongeeks, quickly spawned a plethora of me-too devices. All enticed users to shift much of their computing to mobile machines. The result: an explosion of information about people on the move.


Every time a user clicks on an application, whether it's to turn a phone into a radio or make a bid on eBay, the time and place of the event zips straight to the company selling the service. Certain phone manufacturers can also peek at this data, depending on the handset. Naturally, the wireless service provider also sees it and can place it into the context of the user's other behavior, from physical movements to calling patterns. While phone companies have long had a line on customer behavior, the applications add crucial perspective by pointing directly to each person's interests and needs. (Barflies, Sense researchers found, spend more time than others playing an alcohol-themed game on their handsets.) "All of a sudden we have this incredibly rich information on how and where people use their mobile applications," says Ted Morgan, chief executive of Skyhook Wireless, a provider of tracking technology.

Well, thank God we have a new way to engage the barfly demographic. Drunks are so receptive! Just be careful with those company phones:

The privacy implications are considerable. Is it O.K. for a boss to hand an employee a Latitude-loaded BlackBerry and then monitor her whereabouts? Companies that operate fleets of trucks have tracked employees for years. But similar technology in cell phones would potentially let all sorts of companies monitor and measure employee movements.

Good to know before claiming you're working offsite. Hold on. What am I talking about? People who constantly update their Facebook status probably don't care about privacy. No worries!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"'She is carrying on her head all of our problems and they are buried deep beneath her hair.'"

That description of Cameroonian First Lady Chantal Biya is my favorite sentence from this month's Monocle. It might be my favorite sentence ever. See if you think it's accurate. Do you? What on earth would possess a woman to wear her hair like that? I can't imagine!

Monocle is a sort of marvel. It's informative but not troubling. Every place in the world looks interesting. Lengthy surveys of Mexico don't have to address drug cartel problems. Dior, Cartier and Ermenegildo Zegna still buy ad pages! It's like a grownup, degreed, moneyed version of Disney's It's a Small World ride. Complete with its own souvenir stand.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

But I did watch the finale of RuPaul's Drag Race

Surprisingly emotional. But I still don't understand why the show had such a crappy runway/stage? Didn't it look like something left over from the 1971 version of The Electric Company? Those girls deserved better.

I'm beginning to feel sorry for Julia Roberts

Of all the harsh comments over the weekend -- "Julia's Comeback? Audiences Say Go Back" -- this is the cruelest: "it’s really hard to believe Clive Owen would spot Julia Roberts across the patio at a party and hurl himself at her as if she were Scarlett Johansson. If Clive Owen is going to make a move on Julia Roberts, it’s going to be the 30-year-old Julia, not today’s Julia. Clive Owen is one of the most attractive men on earth, but you could go to any college campus and find 100 women more attractive than the 40-year-old version of Julia."

I mean. Julia Roberts may or may not be annoying but she has definitely aged well.

Would anyone write something so devastating about a 40-something male star? About someone like Nicolas Cage? Let's see: "with few detours from the action star/blockbuster track upon which Cage has trod with particularly graceless aplomb, and virtually no humor at all, except on top of his head, where his hair is continual source of mirth and mystery, because you never know what it's going to do, where it's going to go or to whom it once belonged....Cage isn't a sex symbol and -- stripped of the existential complexity of his early roles -- he's not that interesting to watch."

Well, all right! I feel better.

I still haven't watched the Battlestar Galactica finale!

Friday, March 20, 2009

"As a local business, we want to support our local paper, but are finding it harder each year."

A Dallas Morning News advertiser comments: "We are also continually frustrated that content is not local."

These are the buildings in my neighborhood

The WaMu banks that never were: "the former Washington Mutual location at Greenville Avenue and Milton Street in Dallas – never even had a chance to open....'They spent about $1 million on the facility but never moved in,' said Dallas real estate broker Leland Burk." For this, we lost a friendly neighborhood strip club.

And then: "Another WaMu branch was in developer Mike Hopkins' project on Skillman Street...Hopkins leveled a 2-acre hillside site in front of a Home Depot store to make way for the WaMu building and new retail....But the new building could also be demolished if a larger retailer is interested in the busy location." Just a year ago, developers sure thought the site had tons of potential and I assume that plans for a nearby WalMart grocery store are still a go. At least, I hope those plans are still a go. WalMart's doing OK and it would be an improvement over the neighborhood's car title loan places and the billboard that recruits subjects for medical studies. As long as nothing touches Keller's, we're OK.

Finally Battlestar Galactica comes to an end

I will miss seeing the performances of Michael Hogan and James Callis every week. That's about all. Maybe someday, when I attend BSGCon XX, I'll forget the nits and major disappointments and just be content to stand in line for Tahmoh Penikett's autograph.


From the NYPost: "Portfolio's April issue is barely above the 98-page minimum count needed to be able to glue the cover in place." It's 106 pages in all, with only 21 ad pages -- which is ominous for Conde Nast but maybe pleasant for readers? A lighter magazine is so much easier to handle and to keep. I still prefer the Martha Stewart Living issues from back in the mid 1990's. Remember? Martha was on every cover, the crafts were achievable and the whole thing maxed out at 128 pages. Pretty nice. (Yes! I've kept all those issues even though I know the content can be accessed online. I also like listening to baseball on the radio and I refuse to be paid via direct deposit. Really. I'm hardly worth talking to, let alone following on Twitter.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Flagship stores aren't supposed to be profitable?

From Urbanite: "landlords are negotiating better deals and rates are down a third across the city, according to Faith Hope Consolo, the head of the retail leasing division at Prudential Douglas Elliman. Consolo called this 'one of the best times in retail history to sign leases,'....[Fifth Avenue flagship stores] are not just about how much money they bring in, Consolo said. 'Flagships have no relativity to the market, they’re not solely in business to make retail sales, they are making statements,' she said."

Is there anyone who believes that? Because where are the retailers who can afford to make "statements" anymore? And I don't know who a high-profile location is supposed to impress now that shoppers are "drastically cutting back on spending on status handbags and clothing."

Maybe I'm not being fair. If, say, Neiman Marcus were ever to pull their flagship store out of downtown Dallas, it would be a sort of tragedy. The home of Fortnight and the lone downtown Christmas-time attraction for so many years, it really is a statement of what a great retailer can mean to a city. Oh gosh. I don't know. Let's talk about this over lunch at the Zodiac Room, OK?

AIG bonus recipients, no. Houston madame client list, yes.

Don't you want to know which famous people were clients of the Turbivilles? It would be fun to find out. We'd all have a laugh and the clients themselves would suffer only a little before going on to star in successful CBS sitcoms. I think that's how it works.

Oh well. For now, this part's kinda entertaining: "The police said 10 percent of the Turbivilles’ 1,500 clients had paid by credit card....Ms. Turbiville apparently did not hesitate to report customers who did not make good on their payments....According to police records, Ms. Turbiville reported an incident of credit card abuse in 2007, giving the investigating officer the same phone number as her escort service."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The most provocative sentence I've read this morning

"Instead of creating over-the-top items aimed at grabbing attention for a brand, Paris's designers are selling wearable clothes to people who can afford them."

I think that counts as a great first line. Here's the whole thing, with the most provocative paragraph I've read this morning: "That's the problem with buzz-generating marketing strategies. These days, you can't take buzz to the bank. Chanel's Elizabethan and Victorian collars and Lucite-type handbags drew Kate Moss and other celebrities on Tuesday and included a near-violent paparazzi scrum. But Zeta Interactive, a New York digital-marketing agency, uncovered a less-positive reaction when it monitored talk about the six top Paris designers' shows on more than 100 million blogs, message boards and other Internet outlets. While Chanel's show generated the highest volume of chatter, Yves St. Laurent and Lanvin's more staid shows were more positively received, receiving 98% positive responses, compared with Chanel's 79%. 'What we saw from the Paris fashion shows was that more online chatter did not necessarily equate to better brand reputation,' says Zeta's chief executive, Al DiGuido. Akris had some of the lowest brand chatter that Zeta measured, but its runway show was full of paying customers."

"Any other self-governing unincorporated territories want to mess with us?"

It was a pretty exciting win over Puerto Rico, especially if you switched from the game to Idol every couple of minutes. But moments later the joy subsided a little when Linda Cohn -- who should, after all these years, have something -- asked David Wright, "You got the game-winning hit. What's that like?" ESPN, getting smarter!


But yeah.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Red Bull Crashed Ice event makes SportsCenter's Top 10 and I have a lot of questions

Did you see the highlights last night? Did it seem to come out of nowhere? Has Red Bull invented another sport and was it a sort of product placement arrangement?

And! Did you read Le Anne Shreiber's last ombudsman letter? "So what's the one last message I want to leave ESPN? I guess it would have to be: Don't be so predictable. Subtext: Stop trying to make the publicity-rich ever richer." That seems right. Is this: "It is too late for ESPN to dial it back or dumb it down, too late to satisfy the savvy core audience it created with the thin gruel of sound bites, shouting heads and the celebrations of the obvious. If it wants to sustain its success, ESPN has no choice but to keep getting smarter. Its audience demands it." I'm not sure about this part. Somebody ask ARod and TO what they think.

These people remind me of those people

There is something about this Emily Blunt poster that makes me think of Olivia de Havilland. A little bit anyway.

Also, Gloria Estefan looks like Carmen Miranda, if you can remember Carmen Miranda without her headdresses. You can't? Here.

This certainly could change the way things look in Frisco

Our purchasing power was an illusion and our shopping centers may become vacant, abandoned buildings.

Sidney Liebowitz and Edith Gormezano are still a cute couple

I was listening to some Steve & Eydie yesterday and, gosh, I love her voice. Isn't she sweet? Isn't he handsome? And the line "You're lunching at 21 and watching your diet, declining a charlotte russe, accepting a fig" makes me miss Steve Allen.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

It will be this way until the NFL switches to six-man football

This is the last sentence in a NYPost piece about the NFL players' union: "NFL players currently receive roughly 59 percent of league revenue - the highest ratio in pro sports."

Isn't that a misleading statement? Or at least incomplete? It almost gives you the impression that football players must be the highest paid athletes in pro sports. That's not the case and it's a meaningless number because football team rosters are larger than those in other sports. (I might be wrong there. I have no idea how many players make up a soccer team. Do you count girlfriends?) I've always believed that, given their short careers and risk of horrific injury, football players are underpaid, especially compared to your average, inconsistent Major League Baseball player. Carlos Lee, your thoughts?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

"$59 foundation, $30 lipstick and $44 rouge in gold-toned packaging"

Dolce & Gabbana cosmetics are a Procter & Gamble brand sold at Saks Fifth Avenue and no one involved seems the least bit ridiculous: "[Procter & Gamble VP] Mr. Strobel, dressed during a recent interview in Dolce & Gabbana jeans, jacket and gold-soled sneakers, said P&G's testing showed that consumers 'loved the experience.' Mr. Strobel personally tested the cosmetics, painting each of his fingernails a different color and trying the foundation and eye shadow. Lipstick is the collection's particular focus for Messrs. Dolce and Gabbana....Messrs. Dolce and Gabbana profess a passion for red lips, but they added orange....Mr. Gabbana said he would tolerate only the color of oranges from Sicily."

Friday, March 06, 2009

"We're trying to make pizza part of the solution, not part of the problem"

That's a fun and, I think, a sincere quote from Randy Crochet, whose Naked Pizza will receive funding from Mark Cuban. Crochet's concept -- pizza with "half the calories, half the fat and four to fives times the dietary fiber as most pizza on the market. And as far as he knows, it's the only delivery pizza in the world that contains probiotics, the bacteria that contributes to intestinal health" (Jamie Lee Curtis wins again) -- sounds noble. I wonder if it fits with what Grant McCracken calls "cultural drivers." After all, you're not just ordering pizza. You're solving something. And you'll poop too!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

"I know the whole development is pretty much a bust"

Tom Colicchio's Dallas restaurant isn't doing so well and he thinks the whole Victory Park location is to blame. Right or not, it's fairly hilarious that he would say this so plainly. Hilarious in a sad, RossJr-still-gets-rich sort of way.

On a related note, my favorite description of Victory Park might be this from Nathan Branch: "the Perot family's taxpayer funded debacle...a huge, screeching mess of bad planning, financial arrogance and the fine art of slinging bullshit as if it were an Olympic sport." I think every Stars season-ticket holder from the Reunion years would agree.

Why would anyone willingly pose for Racked: Street Scenes?

The comments are devastating even when someone likes how you look: "i put down 'perfection'...because dude looks cool...but unless he surrounds himself with likeminded cool folks, he looks like a tool...and if he does have this crew of cool folks, he's a douche. so basically, he can only rock this look if he has no friends...which means he's also a loser."

"There is a scarier prospect: that we might go the way of Japan."

This Grant McCracken post is the most helpful thing I've read yet about consumer behavior in a downturn.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Don Rickles? Don Rickles

The three most interesting things about this Vanity Fair piece on The Godfather? 1) A Phyllis McGuire mention! 2) Talia Shire barely makes it into the story. 3) This is how James Caan prepared for the role of Sonny Corleone: "He adopted the strut and copied the way he’d seen gangsters always touching themselves, and he bought two-toned shoes that gave Sonny his lady-killer gait. 'I didn’t have to work on an accent or anything, but I couldn’t quite get a grasp,' he says. He was stuck on the scene where Sonny interrupts the Don during the meeting about going into the drug business with Sollozzo. One night he tried to come up with a solution. 'I was shaving to go to dinner or something, and for some reason I started thinking of Don Rickles. Because I knew Rickles. Somebody was watching over me and gave me this thing: being Rickles, kind of say-anything, do-anything.' The next morning he had Sonny’s personality down cold. 'Oh, are you telling me that the Tattaglias guarantee our investment?' he cracked, with a rapid-fire, Don-Rickles-meets-the-Mob bravado that elevated his character to a whole new level." Do you see it?

Also, if you read the book -- it's not really the shoes that make Sonny Corleone such a lady killer.