Saturday, February 27, 2010

You say killer whale, I say cash cow

Doesn't it seem that this might be the most important fact about Tilikum: "SeaWorld is said to have Tilikum insured for as much as $5 million, and [former SeaWorld trainer Jeff] Ventre said, 'He's worth millions, and he represents the future of the breeding program for SeaWorld. He has impregnated - he's produced 13 calves, I believe.'"

That's 13 little brand mascots. 13 little future star attractions. And what are three human lives compared to that? At least, I think that's what SeaWorld is saying, especially since just three days after the tragedy, the show's back on.

Friday, February 26, 2010

"there are wealthy people out there desperate to buy rare pieces"

A Giacometti sculpture sells for $103.4 million. We're doomed.

The rumor is that it was purchased by the widow Safra who outbid the Hong Kong collector and who, apparently, just had to have it.

"Abercrombie's pursuit of a homogeneous army of 'perfect' employees appears to have snared it again!"

Jezebel presents a pretty thorough history of just how mean Abercrombie & Fitch has always been, from hiring practices to their in-store experience. Featured is a Salon piece from 2006 and I was once again reminded that Abercrombie's CEO Mike Jeffries really is icky. More important, it's obvious now that, even as he was sporting flip-flops and calling everyone "dude," he was completely out of touch with popular culture:

"'In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,' he says. 'Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don't belong [in our clothes], and they can't belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny.'"

See? Mike Jeffries never picked up on the emergence of the nerd and never sensed there would ever be a backlash against mean people. (Interestingly, Kanye West made this same mistake.) Even in 2006 Jeffries could have at least looked at top movies like 2005's Harry Potter or 2004's Mean Girls and perceived a certain smart-nerd-vs-cruel-kid theme at work. Instead he kept tanning. And he and his company were totally unprepared for a world that celebrates the not-so-cool, fat and skinny kids of Ugly Betty, Big Bang Theory and Glee. Why didn't he pick up on this? Why have his failing stores still not picked up on this? Because until they do, their merchandise, their atmosphere and their employees will seem out of step.

Or they can just keep trying "to figure out what the next hot trend is and push that."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

If there's going to be a catfight between Isaac Mizrahi and Tim Gunn, you know whose side I'm on

Trouble at Liz Claiborne! "Mizrahi proved to be an even bigger headache for [CEO Bill] McComb, sources said. In addition to delivering a giant flop with an overly trendy relaunch of Liz Claiborne last spring, Mizrahi complained that Gunn was getting too much attention touring shopping malls and shilling for the label. Gunn was pulled from his circuit, despite having great success with it. But afterward, 'it was like pulling teeth' getting Mizrahi to attend such gigs, one source said."

Probably he knew any public appearance by Tim Gunn would only remind people that Mizrahi's own reality show is such a dud compared to Project Runway. But that's typical Mizrahi: always talking, always wasting everyone's time.

Whereas Tim Gunn is actually worth listening to. He is endearing, provocative, insightful and funny -- everything Mizrahi has been billed as but never really lives up to.

American Idol is unwatchable

I can't fight through enough of it to decide if it's lackluster contestants, tiresome judges or me.

ADDED: Isn't it funny -- after the wild, stupid accusations about Paula Abdul -- that it's Kara and Ellen who end up demeaning a male contestant with creepy sexual comments?

Bob Costas up-close and personal


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I did not make that last thing up

Not even the part about "nubby darned cuffs."

I'm confused by or or whatever it is

The sponsored posts are labeled but, honestly, all the posts sound sponsored. See: "Tilda Swinton talks about making 'The Twinset of My Dreams' for Pringle—it's perfect, by the way, her twinset is. With its nubby darned cuffs, special jeweled buttons and crystal sword brooch designed specially by Waris Ahluwalia, it's pretty much the twinset of our dreams too." Is that the deal now? There used to be some fun writing and commentary, didn't there? I don't know if I can keep on reading. Well I will but, you know, I'm not going to like it.

Sunday's headlines explained today

Now this is interesting: "Pam Romano, president of the Zale division from 1997 to early 2005, said Monday that she also has discussed a return to Zale with [former CEO Robert] DiNicola. She said several former Zale employees are ready to rejoin the jeweler under an Apollo-led turnaround proposal."

No wonder I was so confused. When Sunday's paper stated, "Leadership, return to diamond basics could save Zale," what they really meant was "Past leadership, return to ex CEOs could save Zale." Got it.

Let's hope that this cash infusion leads to good things, like actual holiday ad campaigns.

He gave his life for tourism

Cleft palate, clubfoot, weak bones, and parents who were probably brother and sister. In the end, though, it was mosquitoes that got King Tut.

Who is more awesome than Shaq? No one.

Nymag: "Cleveland Cavaliers center Shaquille O’Neal has published two memoirs, cut six records, acted in seven movies, starred in a reality show, served as a reserve police officer, and studied for a doctorate in 'human resource development.' Now he’s curating 'Size DOES Matter,' an exhibition opening February 19 at the Flag Art Foundation in Chelsea."

But he's not an art collector just yet because "I have six kids, and if they ripped something, I’d be devastated."

Just for fun, let's look back to 1993: "six or seven college basketball players are invited to formally tour the [Nike] World Campus each year and witness a Nike presentation, and only Shaquille O'Neal, who was a star at LSU when he look his tour last year, ever showed up in Reebok gear and yawned during the sports marketing team's elaborate spiel. O'Neal had told various agents and marketing types long before leaving college that he had his own ideas about his image and endorsement future. He had no intention of competing with Jordan, Barkley and the others already at Nike for money and air-time. So he signed a $15 million, five-year deal with the R company and went on to sell the Shaq umbrella marketing concept to other corporations for millions more. Everyone at Nike seems to hope O'Neal fails miserably."

Monday, February 22, 2010

Yay Hal McCoy is covering spring training

"it’s baseball and it’s tradition."

Yay hockey is fun again

Team USA's uniforms are throwbacks.

And joblessness begat joblessness

- In New York City, there are 20 unemployed people competing for every job opening. "Mike Elmendorf, the New York State director for NFIB, told The Post...'A lack of credit is not the main reason why small business is not creating jobs and expanding -- it is a lack of sales, and a bad economy.' Hit by increased unemployment, many states are also hiking unemployment-insurance rates charged to businesses.

- Since no one goes to work anymore, no one stops for breakfast anymore. "The decline is also part of the broader trend of Americans eating more meals at home because of tough economic times. Food consulting firm Technomic last month lowered its annual forecast for restaurant sales to a drop of 1.6 percent, driven in part by weaker fast-food sales."

- And no one can have any fun: "For only the second time, Nevada casinos posted a loss – but this time it was the biggest...Clubs along the Las Vegas Strip, which makes up 53 percent of the gambling revenue in Nevada, registered a $4.1 billion loss...many of the casinos had three and four waves of layoffs to cut cost during this national recession."

- And it's not getting better. Wal-Mart "reported a 22% increase in profit for the fourth quarter but said an important measure of sales fell and cautioned that it expected a challenging start to the year for its U.S. business....Wal-Mart's results showed the continued strain on consumers as they contend with tough economic conditions....Wal-Mart Chief Executive Mike Duke said the retailer's results benefited from cost-cutting measures and more-efficient operations." Even Wal-Mart had to lay people off. Wal-Mart.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The luxury car as a Rorschach test

Jalopnik sees a 2007 pink "$200,000 Lamborghini Gallardo with a custom-made rhinestone-bedazzled logo" as an "example of what got the US into the current economic mess." Interestingly, they make no such leap of logic when P Diddy gave his 16-year-old son a $342,000 Maybach.

Maybe they just don't like pink?

Zale's problem: they're out-advertised

Right now at, the story is headlined, "Leadership, return to diamond basics could save Zale, experts say."

Clunky! But a good indicator of how weirdly vague this article is. Best to go straight to its one useful fact: "Wal-Mart Stores Inc. controls the largest market share in a fragmented business. No jewelry chain holds a stake much bigger than 10 percent. Signet is close and supplanted Zale as the top revenue-producing jeweler in the U.S. in 2006, with its Kay Jewelers and Jared the Galleria of Jewelry chains. It consistently outspends Zale in building stores and advertising its diamond engagement rings, pendants and earrings."

And there you go.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Quick! Develop more products that WalMart can reject!

WSJ, Feb 18: Procter & Gamble is rolling out new Pantene "formulations...Oral-care introductions include new Crest whitening products and a new Crest Pro-Health Sensitive line of toothbrushes, floss and toothpaste....This week, other major consumer-product makers boasted of upcoming new and improved products."

CNNMoney, Feb 15: "Large retailers -- including Wal-Mart the world's biggest -- are wrestling with having too many types of brand-name products. At the same time, shoppers are buying less and looking for bargains. So unless a particular brand is a top seller in its category, it's getting knocked off the shelf -- and sometimes getting replaced by a cheaper store brand." So is Wal-Mart driving the new formulations and package designs?

One thing's clear though: "'2010 is going to be uglier than hell,' Church & Dwight Co. CEO Jim Craigie said on Wednesday. 'I don't see the economy coming back at all.'"

How involved do you think Nike was in orchestrating Tiger's speech?

From Deadspin: "This wasn't a press conference. This was an advertisement."

But going back before all this, how involved do you think Nike was in covering for Tiger? Sometimes I've even wondered if Tiger is a sort of fictional character that had to be created -- the story of taping that list of Nicklaus' major victories to his bedroom wall is especially precious -- all in order to maximize the marketability of an awesome but skeevy Eldrick.

Anyway. Oh hey. You got to click on this for me. Huge. Quickly.

Golf writers are boycotting Tiger's media appearance. Isn't that cute?

They're upset that it's not a true press conference with questions and answers. Are they joking? These guys had years to tell us about the real Tiger but instead chose to contribute to the fiction. They knew. And did nothing. Now they want to ask tough questions? It really is funny.

Another thing I thought about when my power was out

The Snuggie? Not so ridiculous! If I had had one, I'd have worn it. Continuously. Now I kinda have my eye on the new leopard print Snuggie.

Monday, February 15, 2010

My electricity has been out since Thursday

It just came back on this Monday morning. That was a long time to sit in the cold and reflect on monopolies, the wild story-telling abilities of their spokespeople and a fairly docile and unquestioning local press.

Only Councilwoman Angela Hunt was paying attention, which is completely understandable. Mayor Leppert had other stuff.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Here's another thing about the Hall of State

That entrance? Officially known as the Portico Tejas? It's a recessed semi-circle with five double doorways, each made of bronze frames and glass panes that are slightly curved to create a perfectly continuous arc.

Curved. They're curved. Go ahead and try to pull both doors towards you at once. You can't do it. Because they're curved.

Matt Nix is right: "'Fair Park makes it possible to put so much more awesomeness on the screen it's not even funny.'"

"'People don't have confidence in banks, so they want gold and artworks that aren't going anywhere'"

Art auctions as a bad economic omen. Bad for most of us, I mean. Certain Russians and Chinese will apparently be OK.

I thought the big winner was the Megan Fox Motorola spot

A complete joy. My favorite two seconds from the entire Super Bowl telecast starts at :17. Kinda shows up the ManCrunch controversy for the stunt that it was. And my God, the kitchen!

Friday, February 05, 2010

"No cocaine, just life!"

I'd like to thank Kanye for my new personal rallying cry. And also for living fashion "so hard."

At first, I thought my new personal rallying cry should be "Can we get the right music for Mary J Blige?" There are so many moments throughout the day -- when they mess up your order at McDonalds or when your monitor dies at work -- when it would feel so right to shout that out. But no. Kanye has given me something much more positive and non-threatening. C'mon! Say it with me: No cocaine, just life! The exclamation point makes all the difference.

"Zale wanted the vendors to write a check for what Zale had spent on the jewelry—an almost unheard of practice in the industry"

From the WSJ: "The Irving, Texas-based company is asking diamond merchants and other vendors to buy back old jewelry—including products they didn't manufacture—in exchange for a pledge of future orders, according to a company document and interviews with people familiar with the matter. Several vendors said they are reluctant to agree to the proposal."

How reluctant? "As for buying back old merchandise, a diamond vendor familiar with the situation said, 'Historically vendors don't write checks, especially to take back something you don't want and you know you'll lose money on.'"


It can't get worse, can it? "To preserve funds, Zale also has canceled much of the advertising it had planned for Valentine's Day as well as Mother's Day, said people close to the company. These are the two biggest jewelry sales holidays after Christmas."

Thursday, February 04, 2010

There used to be two big reasons to listen to KRLD-AM

But they fired weather guy Brad Barton last year and now they're getting rid of gardening expert Neil Sperry.

I imagine that, to someone in the executive suites, weathermen seem interchangeable and gardening sounds so quaint. But those two guys made KRLD unique. Barton made 1080 the go-to station in bad weather, which here means every day, all day long -- "God knows how many times we've listened to the man warn of impending doom when the power's gone out or during a suddenly darkened drive home." And since my drive home is often 50 miles, that's at least one solid hour of listening that the station has lost. Another station has snapped Barton up and I tune in over there in the mornings just to hear him.

But getting rid of Neil Sperry appears even more clueless, if that's possible. Right when more and more people try to grow their own vegetables or care for their own lawns in order to save money, KRLD is firing the one guy who knows how to keep plants alive in North Texas. In a drought. In soil which is not soil but clay. And KRLD will probably replace Sperry with paid programming featuring financial advisors and fake callers. Such a stupid, out-of-touch, unimaginative move.

ADDED: According to this, Sperry "bought his time block from KRLD, then sold ads to support the show." He never seemed to lack for sponsors so maybe the station wants to sell the time to a higher bidder or maybe they're pursuing a younger audience. In either case, I think someone's missing something. Sperry may not be a champion of huggy-feely, organic gardening but as someone who can help you choose the right plants and avoid expensive mistakes, he is spectacularly on-trend.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

How can you write an article about RFD-TV and not mention the Marty Stuart Show?

Once again, the NYTimes disappoints.

"'We have been told from other cities that there is going to be an increase in prostitutes'"

Well, our city leaders did say that hosting the NBA All-Star game would be good for business.

Here's some interesting word choice: "To prepare, the vice unit is adjusting officers' schedules and hours so that all hands are on deck." Or on something.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

No one in Dallas has seen the NBA All-Star banners

All three are up and nearly complete. The one on the Bank of America building can actually be seen from as far away as Grand Prairie. But because all the banners face west -- to welcome you, I guess, into town as you drive from the actual event 20 miles away in Arlington back to the city for the post-game Diddy & Friends party -- no Dallas resident will ever see them. We'd have to veer way too far out of our M Streets-to-downtown commute. Inconvenient!

And here's a warning: every single inch of I-30 is now an honest-to-God speed trap. From 35 to Cockrell Hill Road to Arlington to Fort Worth. It's been that way for some time now. There's a recession on and those town coffers don't fill themselves now do they?