Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ginger Rogers night on TCM

Kitty Foyle just ended. Overall, it's depressing but about half-way through, she gets to wear a really lovely gown. Renie.

Now: Tom, Dick and Harry. This doesn't look all that interesting except for a very young and attractive, though small, Burgess Meredith. He was married to Paulette Goddard? Wow.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"urbanists and planners need to get beyond their nostalgic quest to recreate the highly centralized 19th-century city"

"Instead they should hop a plane down to Dallas or Houston, where the outlines of the 21st-century American city are already being created." More Joel Kotkin!

And then there's this: "the most dynamic future for America urbanism--and I believe there is one--lies in Texas' growing urban centers. To reshape a city in a sustainable way, you need to have a growing population, a solid and expanding job base and a relatively efficient city administration." That last part could really sink us.

Is Opening Day the best day of the year?

Of all the non-religious holidays, the first day of baseball feels more hopeful than even January 1, I think. It's less than a week away. And -- yay! look! -- non-flashy, hard-working guy Scott Feldman will be the starter.

Monday, March 29, 2010

And then she took the pastry tube and piped the whipped cream right into his mouth

I can't be the only person obsessed with the Weather Channel's Abrams & Bettes, can I? I can't be the only one who thinks Stephanie Abrams is truly -- I'm being serious -- one of the most amazing women on TV.

"Day...appears to be angling for an outright sale of RadioShack so he can 'take the money and run'"

RadioShack's CEO Julian Day gets the NYPost treatment. I don't believe you'd ever read this in the papers here: "The smooth-talking Brit known for his vise-like grip on RadioShack's operations and finances cuts an elegant figure at the retailer's headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, with a penchant for $5,000 suits. Nevertheless, he hasn't taken up permanent residence in Texas, with his family holed up in Montana since he took the helm at RadioShack in 2006. 'They've tried to get [Day] involved in the local community, but it isn't happening,' according to one source."

Julian Day's contract ends this summer and he'd make around $93 million in a sale. That leaves -- what? -- a month to make it happen.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

No Pink Martini for Dallas

Three dates in Fort Worth. Zero in Dallas. Problem! I will only go so far to be entertained.

Jamie Oliver's black like me

I'm pretty fascinated by this look at Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution (Produced by Ryan Seacrest! Have you heard?!) because someone takes the time to examine Oliver's track record, which is not impressive.

And because of this: "Oliver recently claimed—while discussing his newfound understanding of racism and the plight of immigrants—that he is 'sixth generation Sudanese,'....The Daily Mail, reporting the story, hinted politely 'some might see [this] as an attempt to improve his street credibility.'" Which is impressive. I wonder if Oliver was moved to action by the rude, racialist treatment of Ali G.

Friday, March 26, 2010

RadioShack is "a name that always intrigues people, but no one is very hot for it"

Looking to sell. "Another possibility is a merger with big-box rival Best Buy, which lately has experimented with a smaller retail format to meet fast-growing demand for smartphones and other wireless gadgets. 'This is all about handheld devices,' said one banking source close to the situation. 'A whole new wave of these products are coming out and they're going to break the monopoly of the carriers,' whose market power has bruised RadioShack's profits in the past."

I just have this feeling that Julian Day really, really wants to get out of Fort Worth. Why is that?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Harlowe lying on a bearskin rug

The phrase alone inspires such a vivid mental image that the actual photo turns out to be a little underwhelming. Or is it because of the bear's face?

ON SECOND THOUGHT: Hmm. Maybe underwhelming is the wrong word. Maybe it's just shocking that Jean Harlowe turns out to be the least remarkable aspect of the photo.

Of course I'll follow you on Twitter

Here's a pattern I've noticed: Max Papis, Julius Caesar and Franca Sozzani often seem to tweet at the same time. This amuses me to no end. And they are all awesome.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Turns out people like having a lot of choices

Walmart re-thinks their decision to reduce product selection. It hurt same-store sales because some "brands Walmart eliminated, like Arm & Hammer liquid laundry detergent, amped up promotions at other retailers, particularly supermarket chains [and] forced shoppers into the arms of Walmart's competition."

I hope Target follows suit. They usually do, don't they? And right now, Target is awash in their own Up & Up products.

Anyway, it's all a good excuse to go back and read this Virginia Postrel article. My favorite sentence? "Too much choice may cause regret, but no choice is worse."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Not that it matters

But Tiger Woods is still as full of shit as he was back in November.

Horrible, divisive, a total waste of time and resources

Dancing With The Stars returns tonight.

News about famous people who are actually likable

Olympic gold medalist Nastia Liukin gets her own clothing line. It's for little girls. Who pretty much love her. And here's an interesting thing: JCPenney "ranks fourth in U.S. market share for girl's apparel, behind Wal-Mart, Target and Kohl's, but it has the largest market share in the malls." Does it surprise you that Target and Kohl's rank that high?

I didn't realize this either: Liukin "has secured several partnerships including Covergirl, Visa, AT&T, Herbal Essences, Pure Sport, Secret, Sega and Wheaties."

All that as well as being the most amazing Max Azria model ever.

"Respect is a sexy quality, and the ability to give respect is even sexier."

Naomi Campbell: "I actually connect with those that ooze inner beauty, you know when you can just see the light radiating as soon as the person walks into a room."

"Connect" is a hilarious choice of words there. Although maybe her driver, the police officers at Heathrow, her New York maid and that assistant in Toronto won't see the humor.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Maybe my favorite intro to a Dallas Morning News story, ever

Here: "Bill McNutt, the Southern Methodist University alumnus arrested last month on campus, has hosted small dinner parties for casual acquaintances where liquor is served and guests are offered private massages."

Friday, March 19, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The shocking news contained within the shocking news about Ron Washington

Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington tested positive for cocaine last season and if that's not weird enough (it's pretty weird, right? the guy's 57. This is baseball not the music industry), there's this:

The Rangers, as an organization, were being blackmailed because of it. Blackmailed! Seedy!

And there's this:

"According to MLB rules, disciplinary measures are only mandatory in cases of performance-enhancing drugs....Managers and coaches are not represented by the players' union, and are thus subject to testing for recreational drugs, such as cocaine. Major league players are not tested for cocaine and other recreational drugs."

Oh OK. Yeah: no tests, no unpleasantness, no blackmail. What could go wrong?

ADDED: The weirdest thing by far, though, is how the local sports media has to handle this news. First, because the story broke at, the coverage here has mostly been limited to opinion-oriented reaction pieces. The only additional news -- the blackmailing -- is exclusive to Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Although the Dallas and Fort Worth papers share baseball reporters, Galloway is a columnist and is not carried in the Dallas Morning News. So: sorry Dallas sports fans. Galloway also hosts an afternoon show on the local ESPN radio affiliate, and as I listen to the other sports stations now, they're only gingerly taking up the blackmail part of the story, never crediting Galloway by name because God forbid you should mention a competitor in any way except jest. Everyone's happy to talk and talk and talk about the reasons Ron Washington should be fired. So far, to my knowledge, no one here is addressing how yet another major story -- like Parcell's retirement, like ARod's positive test, hell, like the whole Canseco steroid era -- slipped right by the DFW sports media.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bijou news

A newly mined 6225-carat Zambian emerald. Oh go ahead and buy it! The elephants will thank you.

Meaningless news of the day

Pepsi is removing their sodas from schools. I don't think this matters. They're still selling sugary Tropicana drinks, sweet Quaker-brand treats and all those Frito-Lay snacks, right?

"the most dynamic growth in America from 2010 to 2050 is going to happen here in Dallas"

Candy Evans has got me all curious about Joel Kotkin. And about that William Faulkner quote.

Maybe The Next Hundred Million would be good companion reading to those two Voegeli articles and to this Michael Barone piece.

That was fun: Toyota's Sponsafy Your Ride contest

The most interesting part of the promotion is already over. Still, I like the idea, I like the name, I like the spots. Yay!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Please advise

If you blog under a fake name, are you required to count that name as an additional household member on your census form?

"I'm sort of watching it not work now"

Nigel Lythgoe knows exactly what's wrong with American Idol: "The judges are part of the show. They are not the show."

Star power at the Pacquiao fight

The final tally is in and here are the celebrities who turned out for last Saturday's big fight at Cowboys Stadium: Robert Duvall! Troy Aikman! Deion Sanders! And, uh, Miles Austin, Ken Hamlin, Drew Pearson and Marion Barber.

In fairness, stars weren't expected. I think the focus instead was on Jerry Jones. Didn't the storyline seem to be that, in taking what's usually a Las Vegas high-roller event and bringing it to Texas, Jones was single-handedly returning boxing to the masses? Here, look: "'Jerry Jones put on a show,' said Big Sugar Ray Phillips, a former pro fighter from Mineral Wells, Texas, who is now a trainer and actor. 'The good thing is that he didn't price out the fans. He made the prices reasonable for the working man to come to fights like this.'"

I mean, even Tim Smith expressed hope that if "Pacquiao and Clottey put on a good show and Jones is really committed to holding more boxing events at his stadium, it could jump-start a movement to push boxing back into the mainstream. But it is an uphill push."

By the way, here's my scorecard: Winners -- Jerry Jones, the city of Arlington, the Diamond Club, Grapevine's Gaylord Texan Resort. Losers -- Dallas city coffers.

"Fossil is about a culture devoted to design and the Fossil brand"

The Star-Telegram's Mitchell Schnurman calls it "an expensive, labor-intensive proposition." Specifically: "a big in-house media operation, churning out hand-drawn graphics, posters, packaging and sexy images from a photo staff as large as this newspaper. Fossil even has its own architects to design its stores. The company has 150 designers, most based in the sprawling Richardson headquarters. Each product or service category has a distinct area -- watches on the ground floor, apparel on one side, a large photo studio in the center and graphics spread out in its own work zone. 'Creatives are seen as an asset; they make Fossil work,' says Tim Hale, senior vice president for marketing and design."

I wonder if you could say that, in putting so much art and meaning into their stores and packaging, they're successfully creating an emotional benefit -- one that can't be duplicated. But maybe I go too far.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Blockbuster's resigning board member is Senator Dodd's wife?

After six and a half years, Jackie Clegg is leaving Blockbuster's Board of Directors. She's going to "'look at some public service opportunities' tied to international aid" and, frankly, I'm enjoying a little giggle about that. If someone needs aid, isn't it Blockbuster? Ah, but maybe she's done enough.

Also, if she's quitting and her husband isn't running for a sixth term, I wonder how they'll ever manage to get by.

Success has a thousand fathers; failure gets orphaned right there on the pages of AdAge

Won't anyone step forward and take responsibility for Budweiser's Drinkability campaign?

The consultant Mr Kash couldn't be more wrong-headed, though, when he says, "If all you have is an emotional benefit, it can be duplicated."

"you have to be careful not to write a show just for the superfans"

I've plucked that sentence fragment out of an interview with Matt Nix -- of Burn Notice and the new Code 58/The Good Guys/that show being filmed in FairPark -- because I think it sums up a lot of what went wrong on Battlestar Galactica. [Pause. Heavy sigh.] Here's his complete thought: "I think it’s satisfying for people to feel that that relationship [with their favorite show] is reciprocal in some way. The truth is, you do have a relationship with your fans, and there is a feedback loop there. And while you have to be careful not to write a show just for the superfans, that kind of feedback is really valuable." So: cool.

But I do have to call BS on this exchange:

DH: Right. So let’s talk about your 2 shows. It seems as though, in both cases, these are about somebody who gets kicked out of an institution but wants desperately to get back in to prove they can still do it. Is that true?

MN: Wow, I never thought of that.

C'mon. Never? C'mon!

Friday, March 12, 2010

"You met me at a party six to eight weeks ago and you said I was a really good sport"

What is the re-play value of comedy albums?

For adults in the 70s, by which I mean my parents, I think it was the equivalent of owning a Seinfeld DVD box set. They had favorite moments from each album and it was something to share and laugh at when friends came over. It was after all one of the few in-home on-demand entertainment options at the time. For me, though, the George Carlin routines were like nursery rhymes. They had fun words that I didn't completely understand but wanted to hear over and over. I can recite them to this day.

But maybe my experience is not typical.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sotheby's is profitable again. This is terrible news.

UnBeige wonders if it's a "sign that the high-end auction world is coming back up for some air after being stuck with every other company well below the surface due to the global financial meltdown." I think it would be more accurate to say it's a sign that rich people need some place safe to put their cash.

And, just as accurately, it's a sign that Lily Safra really did want that Giacometti.

I refuse to feel old

Even though the week started off with a Brat Pack reunion. Even though one of the Coreys passed. Even though the new Pantene model is Simon LeBon's daughter.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

American Idol has become national open mic night

That's the feeling I get every time I switch over to it. I must be missing the high-energy performances.

"the near-obsolescence of realistically aged actresses"

How Botox is ushering in a new school of overacting: "On two cable dramas starring actresses of a certain age, the heroines are brassy and expansive, with a tendency to shout and act out, yet somehow their placid foreheads are never called into play. Usually, when a person reenacts a stabbing or smashes a car with a baseball bat, some part of the face is going to crease or bunch up. Not so with these women. As though to compensate for their facial inertia, both perform with stagy vigor, attempting broad looks of surprise or disappointment, gesticulating and bellowing."

Which, in turn, is ushering in new ideas about women. Or is it: "The actresses with their hard, frozen faces and their sinewy bodies encased in lavishly ruffled dresses showed that movies are no longer a source of fresh inspiration about beauty, femininity and womanhood."

I guess that Dove campaign can only do so much.

Your new boss says his favorite book is The Prince. Should you be scared?

Let's meet Estee Lauder CEO Fabrizio Freda, OK?

Right away, he seems sensible: "Mr. Freda wants to woo customers who are still hesitant to splurge on upscale cosmetics. To make shopping less intimidating, some beauty counters now display prices....'It allowed the consumer to make up her mind without having to ask the price. This takes embarrassment away.'" For the salesperson too. It shouldn't have taken this long for someone to realize that.

He's from Procter & Gamble so he likes his research: "We don't want to just do the products that consumers want. We want to be inspired by consumer desires and surprise them with products and services that they don't expect."

And his leadership style is most influenced by The Prince: "'What we learn reading this book is the difficulty of change. Machiavelli explains [that] when you need to change something, you have as enemies all the people who were happy in the previous status. You look for supporters in the people who want to change but don't know how their life would be after change.'"

You could say that, as a rare non-Lauder in the family business and someone in the process of laying off 2000 people, he's being a little Machiavellian by merely mentioning the book. Or is his honesty refreshing?

Monday, March 08, 2010

I would like to thank the Academy

Of course Nikke Finke called it the "WORST OSCARS EVER!" That's what she does.

But I liked this observation instead: "Another thing worth noting: all the top winners--actors, writers, director, producers--won for what seemed to be a labor of love." I wouldn't have thought of that, but it's true. Doesn't that kind of make you feel good? A little?

Friday, March 05, 2010

Fun with Getty Images

It's understandable that the caption writer for this shot would be distracted, but "Taylor has a bouffant hairstyle and wears a low-cut dress with a diamond necklace" is lacking crucial, even legendary, details. Namely: Elizabeth Taylor's hair was often styled by Alexandre; the dress is an Edith Head design and that's the 69.42-carat Taylor-Burton diamond her husband had just purchased for $1,100,000. I feel these things are important to note because that ain't just any rack we're staring at.

I am fascinated by these 1970 Oscar photos. Quite a culture clash, isn't there?

Thursday, March 04, 2010

And to think there were no red carpet shows

Elizabeth Taylor at the 1970 Academy Awards. I really can't stop looking at this.

If that's not your speed: Oscar night, eight years later. It helps to see the full effect.

ADDED: I changed the link to the Elizabeth Taylor photo. Let's hope this one works. I don't want you to miss it!

Was Disney's Princess & The Frog too girly?

Roger Friedman: "'The Princess and the Frog' was a disappointment, insiders say. Even though it was nominated for an Oscar and got pretty good reviews, 'P & F' is considered a bust in Toon Town. According to sources, several things hurt the movie. Not the least of which was the word 'Princess' in the title. 'It scared off the little boys. Only girls wanted to see it,' says an observer."

Wait. What? If a title can scare away boys, how did "Cinderella, "Snow White," "Little Mermaid," and "Pocahontes" ever succeed? The Disney princesses are a huge business. Who doesn't want to celebrate their birthday at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique?

No, I really don't think the movie failed because it was too girl-centric.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

You know there are spring training games on the MLB channel, right?

I suggest staying home, tuning in, maybe even drinking a few beers.

The Vanity Fair article about the David Letterman extortion case

Not one likable, sympathetic or endearing figure in the entire story. Everyone's spoiled and mean. But the women are assessed in the cruelest terms: "Letterman is, by his own admission, one of the most unhappy, insecure, guilt-ridden, self-loathing, self-pitying people on the planet. All of this informs his choices, especially when it comes to women. 'He favors unadorned women and at the same time women who are at the reach of his demonically low self-esteem,' says one veteran Letterman observer."

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Here's another thing about the Hall of State: the Angel of Goliad

Because she saved lives and because she "deserves to be recorded in the annals of this country and treasured in the heart of every Texan," the Mexican-born Angel of Goliad is part of the mural in the Great Hall. That's her at the lower left, near the carriage. No one knows her real name. She was probably the mistress of a Mexican officer. It was a Palm Sunday and over 340 men were put to death. She must have been quite brave.

The flags in front of the Hunt Oil Building always tell a story

Today, they are flying the flags of the Texas Revolution, including old Come and Take It.

I always wonder exactly who's in charge of the flags at Hunt Oil. A lot of times, they fly the US flag, the state flag and I assume, the flag of a visiting executive's native land. On January 27 -- Holocaust Remembrance Day -- they flew Israel's flag.

It's wonderful, I think, their effort to honor history.