Tuesday, September 28, 2010

No one likes the fried beer

They were spitting it out. Literally. Taking a bite and spitting it out and warning total strangers not to try it. I've never seen this happen with any food ever at the Texas State Fair. Maybe the Dallas Observer wasn't exaggerating.

Other fair notes: the Tom Landry exhibit at the Texas Hall of State is awesome. Lots of people filed through -- quiet, interested and respectful. It's been 10 years.

The Century In The Making Football Pavilion is also at the Hall of State. I've decided the Texas Hall of State is the perfect venue for any exhibit of military, ranching and football history and should stick exclusively with those themes. Serious about this.

$15 parking, a 50% increase from last year.

Where is the ShamWow booth?!!

Something someone wrote about TV that I think applies to advertising and other things

From a Masked Scheduler post about the now-fired NBC Uni CEO Jeff Zucker:

You either respect the television audience; they work hard, love their friends and families, struggle to make ends meet and to put food on their table. They look to us to entertain them for a few hours....make them laugh, cry, escape, relate. They are smarter than all of us and know what they want far better than we do.


You hold the audience in contempt, treat them like sheep, think you are smarter than they are, pander to them and believe that they will never hold you responsible for your actions.

Zucker seems to have had a low regard for both the audience and the creative community and the result speaks for itself. Maybe you can't do any effective entertaining, persuading, advising or story-telling if you don't respect the people you're talking to. And if you can't respect people who are very different than you -- who live, eat, think, vote, or work differently -- then your ratings or sphere of influence or sales will be Zuckeresque.

10 random things about Twitter

1. Actually, I don't have 10. But I've realized that tweets that mention numbered lists and link to articles with numbered lists evidently garner a lot of attention.

2. And those articles usually suck. It's always "10 things your masseuse won't tell you," "8 secrets your waiter doesn't want you to know," or "5 people your sex partner thinks of while you're asleep" -- so it's provocative. But rarely informative or helpful.

3. I don't like Twitter the way you like Twitter. I prefer the self-contained tweet to the linky tweet. For one, I happen to care that your cat just rolled over. And two, see 2. Still Guy Kawasaki's techchat was one of the best, most helpful, most interesting things I've ever read about Twitter.

4. The Kaus Theory still intrigues me: "Twitter needs celebrities to promote its service. Celebrities need the publicity, but also they need protection. Deal!" Although it's interesting that Twitter cannot protect celebrities from themselves. Embarrassing, David Price.

5. Really? Can we all stop tweeting about the poor Segway guy? It seems like he was a good and smart man and after about the 58th mention, it seemed cruel.

6. There are a lot of positive, hard-working people to follow. It's genuinely inspiring.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

If there's a Kennedy involved, there must be conspiracy theories

From Vulture: Project Runway's Tim Gunn "has been posting episode postmortems to his Facebook page, sharing his unfiltered, uncensored thoughts in ten-minute videos.... His frustration came to a head while recapping last week's challenge, where the designers were challenged to make modern-day sportswear inspired by Jackie Kennedy. Could that be why shortly after the new video was posted to his Facebook page, it suddenly disappeared without a trace?"

Vulture wonders if Lifetime executives, upset at Gunn's criticism of the producers, pulled the video, which of course is still easy to find.

I can't help thinking that the real problem for Lifetime is Gunn's off-hand criticism of the Kennedy estate -- at the 6:00 mark, he complains about being "forbidden" from saying "Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis," and the crazy "revisionist history" that would have us forget the weird second marriage.

So the estate probably gave the show permission to use the former first lady's image and, evidently, the estate has its demands. They probably have good reasons. Maybe there's a noble cause at stake. Surely, the Kennedy estate is not clinging to the Camelot fantasy and dragging out heart-breaking photographs just to sell us QVC jewelry?

Please, though: don't tell Lifetime executives about Laura Bennett's blog. It's on their own site and it's always excellent but it's doubtful they've read it, especially the part about "Jackie O" being a "bulimic chain-smoker with a cheating husband who married a shipping tycoon for money and then lived with another married man until the end of her life."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

House rates "much higher on the forgiveness scale than Lone Star hero’s cheating on 2 wives and swindling hard-working people"

No one knows why Lone Star failed but I do think there's something to Nellie Andreeva's theory. Dr House spends a great deal of time in obvious physical pain, engendering some measure of sympathy. Lone Star's central character seems tormented by a goofy dad and a conscience -- things an adult can partially control. Important difference.

Maybe? Now that I've watched the latest episode Terriers, I can't be sure. "One of the central pieces of the FX formula that Shawn Ryan helped create with 'The Shield' was the idea of shows with anti-heroes at the center - good guys who are capable of being very, very bad guys." Why are Terriers' anti-heroes so much more appealing than Lone Star's? I think it has something to do with how much suffering an actor can convey without saying anything. A cane helps. A grizzled, weary expression does too.

I don't really want to hate Lone Star. It's just upsetting that, for a show hyped as "outside-the-box programming" and "more nuanced than a soap opera," those first 15 minutes -- look! a cute girl wearing nothin' but a towel! -- were as soapy and cliched as it gets.

Today Nate Berkus might want to make time to read his first design blog

The national scandal that is NateGate: design bloggers "waited and waited and waited and waited, and finally, last week many of us got word that the day had finally come. The blogger show was scheduled for 9/21! We were only given one week's notice (which was kind of annoying), but many bloggers still managed to take time off, make travel arrangements and take time out of their very busy lives to be there....People spent a lot of friggin money to get their asses there, but it was all for Nate! So it was worth it! Only it wasn't! Like not even a little bit!"

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

About 6 weeks later and we still don't know what the hell was going on at the Rangers auction

Even an explanation from the court-pappointed restructuring officer can't clear up Mark Cuban's role in the Texas Rangers bankruptcy auction: "Snyder said sports commentators got it wrong by asserting that Cuban connived with the banks to pump up the value of Rangers debt, which he had admitted buying some in late 2009."

Well then, what was it? Because Cuban -- rebuffed when he sought to buy the Chicago Cubs -- and his partner Jim Crane -- who had already alienated baseball owners when he backed out of a previous deal to buy the Astros -- were an odd and unlikely ownership duo. Was Cuban doing the banks a solid, not for his own immediate profit, but some future considerations? Is the man going through a rough patch? Also? What is Crane's deal?

By far, though, the most interesting aspect of the August 4th auction was guessing which media members were being played by Cuban. At various times throughout the day, bold claims were made that Cuban was going to blow up baseball's anti-trust standing, that Cuban was buying the team in order to build a new media empire and, about 3 hours before he folded in court, that people close to Cuban insisted he was very, very serious about buying. I now assume this is what Cuban was telling everyone off the record. It must have made them all feel very smart and cool. Until about 12:45am August 5. So it was funny when, after it was all over, Cuban called the media "the dumbest people in the room;" funnier still when he got beaten down while trying to defend himself in a venue less friendly than his own blog.

But does this make you feel a little less bitter about Tom Hicks: "The restructuring officer figured that Hicks took home $60 million of the $525 million when he refinanced in 2006, but had put all of that back into the Rangers plus plowed in another $40 million more by the time he defaulted on the debt in March 2009." No? I understand.

ADDED 9/22: The SEC -- who now enjoys exemption from FOIA requests and is therefore always suspicious -- successfully resuscitates their case against Cuban.

"Caesars Palace gets so many requests for a suite that doesn’t exist from people willing to pay $4,000 a night for the place"

What one movie can do for Las Vegas tourism: "'The Hangover' suite, an amalgamation of three Caesars suites and a little Hollywood magic, existed only on a soundstage in Southern California. But that hasn’t stopped tourists from asking about it and wanting to get a look at some of the places they saw in the movie....Debbie Munch, Harrah’s Entertainment’s vice president of public relations in Las Vegas, said guests from Israel to Australia have made trips just to see the infamous 'Hangover' suite in Caesars Palace."

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Turns out migration assistant cannot migrate or assist

I am taking my old computer in to have everything transferred to my new computer so I'll be without any computer for a few days. I'm not nervous or sad or filled with dread or convinced something really unusual and bad will happen. Not at all. No. Why do you ask?

Friday, September 03, 2010


On Monday, Texas State Fair judges will choose this year's Big Tex Award winners. How can you not be excited? Of course the talk is all about the Fried Beer but I think an adults-only treat is somehow less fun. It would certainly be less revenue-generating, wouldn't it? It does succeed, though, in being simultaneously intriguing and scandalous so both gluttons and scolds will have something to talk about. Which is the whole point of fair food.

I for one would like to salute the person who is serving up Texas Fried Frito Pie. Fried Fritos -- I laugh every time I hear it.

Is this Project Runway's "meanest season ever"?

Or is the new 90-minute format just showing us what's always been there -- the ridiculously petty interaction between ambitious, self-absorbed people? Either way, it's extremely satisfying to watch.

I wish I were smart so I could provide some sort of keen insight about people who can't take a fair critique or whose own outsized self-esteem and sense of entitlement can cloud their eyes and minds. There are life lessons in there somewhere. Maybe this: ideas can come from anywhere. And don't hate.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

TV reporters seem visibly upset that Earl may not make landfall

Serves me right for watching morning news, which is always TV's dumbest timeslot.

"But the fact that Wal-Mart now sells organic food makes me proud. Organic has become mainstream."

Honestly, I can't remember if we're supposed to love John Mackey because his Whole Food Stores are so awesome, or hate John Mackey because of his politics. Conflicts, huh? But hey! Look at this:

"A new animal welfare rating program will be in all stores by Jan. 1. Signs will tell customers exactly how meat animals were raised."

In a way: yay! In another way: yuck. Do I want to read the bio of something I'm going to eat?

This, though, is a nice bit of perspective: "Whole Foods has always been a synthesis of healthy foods and foods for pleasure. ... Over our history, it seems, in 10-year cycles, one of those waxes and the other wanes. When we began, we were healthy foods. Around 1991, we began to evolve to food as pleasure. Now, food as health is beginning to wax again. It's not that we'll stop selling pleasurable foods. But we'll put greater emphasis on food as a health product."

And another thing: comment moderation is a pain in the ass

I turned it on for all the usual and uninteresting reasons. Sorry.

Look! I opted for a template even uglier than the one I had!

It really is offensive, isn't it? I was hoping for a burnt orange look but something went horribly wrong. Well. I dunno. Maybe it's not final.

"What blue collar workers faced in the last thirty years is coming to the white collar workforce now"

Walter Russell Mead's advice to students could benefit all of us. It's depressing but clear and empowering.

It occurred to me the other day that one thing you don't see anymore is the congratulatory retirement party. I've only gone to one in the last 10 years. I know of three others but those were for government employees. I think their world will change too.

So Mead seems to be right: "Your competition is in China and India – and your competition isn’t hanging out at frat parties or sitting around watching sitcoms with dorm-mates....Your competition isn’t taking courses on gender studies; it isn’t majoring in ethnic studies, or the history of film."