Thursday, December 25, 2008

A very Vegas Christmas...

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!

Though I got here a day late due to an uncommon snowstorm in the desert...



It's been a wonderful holiday and I wanted to wish all my fair readers well for Christmas and a joyful and bountiful 2009!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Harried...hurried...holiday madness and an exciting new client...

Well...amidst the tree decorating and shopping and planning...

I just started working with the Southeastern Horticultural Society and their dynamic new Executive Director to get the word out about the 22nd Annual Southeastern Flower Show!








Stay tuned...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

On the heels of yesterday's disappointing run-off election...*

I thought I'd share a really catchy, sexy tune that I've been obsessed with. I originally thought it was just a clever TV theme song - but as is so often the case with advertising and programming these days - it comes from a real group and is a real, full-length song. SO - here for your enjoyment - Bitter:Sweet's "The Bomb" paired with the joy that is Breakfast at Tiffany's!



YUM!


*- seriously though - when did it become OK for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to produce and buy political advertising on behalf of candidates?!?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

HEY GEORGIA! VOTE TODAY!!!! [NOW with evening addendum!]




It's run-off election day!



Peachy friends and neighbors - don't forget to vote!


Evening addendum:
When did it become the policy of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to produce and buy political advertising on behalf of candidates?!? [especially the ugly ad they're running here in Georgia] Very interesting behavior from what I thought was a non-partisan, member-driven business organization.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Like caramelly crack! Only wildly cheap, quite legal and readily available...

The hidden gem at the generic end of the Kroger cookie aisle - Kroger Value Caramel Striped Shortbread Cookies - simply rocks!
[photo by Jill Ball]

I've been wanting to write about these budget-friendly faves for some time [shame on you Ms. Glynn]. Originally a better value at $1.01 - now for only $1.21 you get nearly a pound of these addictive treats!

While the ingredient list may not be up to some grocers' standards - there's nothing in here from Dow or Exxon. In fact, save for an extraordinary amount of food colorings, the ingredients are pretty straightforward - unlike the flavor.

These cheap cookies are complex! At first they may seem a little cloying. Then the lacy rounds actually give way to a slightly salty finish. It's a nice surprise.
[yummy photo by Jill Ball]

You know...when the going gets tough {like it really is right now}, the tough should get Kroger Value Caramel Striped Shortbreads.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

QUICK TAKE: Uncle Fun meets Woolworth's

Any native Atlantan knows Richard's Variety Store in Buckhead... A whacky amalgam of bookstore, toy store, neighborhood hardware store, home goods retailer and party supplies, and, and...

Being a somewhat new peachy boy - I hadn't yet discovered it. Well...NOW - Richard's Variety Store is in Midtown - right next to Trader Joe's.

It reminds me of Chicago fun-festival Uncle Fun (those of you who know KNOW! Those who don't - it's almost worth a trip if you add in Paper Boy and Superdawg). But - not just fun vintage toys
or retro candy
[remember edible spaceships?!?!]

It's got a GREAT greeting card selection - including some pretty designs and funny ones I've never seen. Those of you who know me know that that's quite a statement given my stationary issue [I'm obsessed]. The cheery yellow floor sweeps across the gigantic space from party supplies and Asian home goods to a pretty comprehensive and interesting kitchen department, a well-curated book selection displayed on antiques that are also for sale and - yes - the illusive sundries and notions department. SUNDRIES! NOTIONS!!! A broad selection of toys chosen to amuse grown-ups and a great selection for kids as well combined with a smattering of fun and retro sweets rounds out the collection.

What a fun way to spend part of a dreary afternoon.

Richard's Variety Store is in the Midtown Promenade next to Trader Joe's on Monroe just south of 10th street.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A great American morning

It's a great new day in America.


An Atlanta sunrise full of the shared hope and promise of a better future...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Struggling Retailer's Flash of Brilliance...

The AWFUL state of the economy may have one beneficial side effect...

In addition to showing us that we should like live within our means, duh, it marks the resurgence of an old retail practice.

Layaway. Kmart has brought back a practice that really came to the fore during the Depression and lasted well into the 1970s...


You had to plan. How much? When? Paying on the installment plan - if you will - with no interest or outrageous finance charges. It was simple and sensible. Buyer's remorse? Nah - not if you have to actually pay for it. Overpaying for something as the interest rate ticks away while you pay the minimum - nope. You pay what it costs.

And - now Kmart has made the brilliant move of bringing this back AND promoting it! [Although I don't understand why they've excluded laptops?!] YAY Kmart! It brings back memories of Mom paying in bits and pieces for big gifts...us at the local K - shopping...stopping for a 19 cent ham sammie on a plain little white bun when the blue light was flashing. LOVED those!!!

Good for you Kmart! Now - consumers do it! Quit charging your future away... Now - if I can only remember that...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

NEW WORDS I HATE...

Normally - I'm a sucker for combining words into wildly descriptive, fun new words...

Alas...I have recently come across two that made me throw up a little in my mouth.

Naturally both came from the world of PR and marketing. Naturally.

See I like words like "hilarify" - a tasty combo of terrify and hilarious - meaning it makes me laugh bunches but is really scary for whatever reason!

Sadly - I recently encountered a colleague who called himself a "solutionist." Eeew...
and
A company that used the descriptive word "Communimedia" in their company name.

I preferred Homer's internet venture name - CompuGlobalHyperMegaNet

Friday, October 17, 2008

Good to the last drop... I’m just MAD about Danneman’s!

In New York – it was Factory…In Austin – it was Little City…In Chattanooga – it was Coffee Crafters…

While I love my ‘bou at 10th/Piedmont and all the folks there – if Danneman’s were walkable I’d never go anywhere else. It is my Atlanta coffee home. I’ve moved around and have some favorites about town: Castleberry’s Tilt rocks [and leans], Reynoldstown’s Park Grounds is comfortable and funky, Kirkwood’s Gathering Grounds is stylish and welcoming.

But…but… Danneman's. Danneman’s is the real deal. It instantly grabbed my heart and mind.

Located in the ever-changing and increasingly safe and diverse Fourth Ward/Edgewood/MLK Historic neighborhood at the intersection of Edgewood and Boulevard, Danneman’s occupies the space of a former “indie” coffee chain. The building was also home at one time to a grocer by the same name.

Photo: Danneman’s

AND – here’s how I was so very charmed… Upon entering – you note the counter wrapped in corrugated aluminum with battered letters – the original signage of the grocery. The dead-on, fantastic d├ęcor combines that retro grocery feel with schoolroom accents – from the stand-up chalk board menu and happy sticker signs to the science lab tables and retail scale that holds fresh fruit and available pads and pencils for sale for those who’ve forgotten their back-to-school meeting supplies – it all works. The vintage seating set, the found letter cutouts for “eat” and “coffee,” it’s an artful blend of mod, retro, and vintage. The details all work and make for a most comfortable setting. Upstairs is the “library” for meetings, studying and additional seating.

Our friendly barista, and one of the partners, shared information about their intriguing baked goods and fun food menu. I have to say – it’s SO exciting to visit a groovy coffeehouse with an uncommon menu. It’s not broad or even, perhaps, culinary gold, but – neat. Big, interesting sandwiches, locally baked goods and uncommon snacks like string cheese and hard-boiled eggs, black bean dip and big + little breakfast sandwiches… My coffee pal Alastair and I shared a peanut butter, Nutella, banana and honey sandwich on a croissant that was indulgent and delicious and only $3.

What of the coffee - you ask? It is after all a coffeehouse. It’s locally roasted. I can’t go on too much, yet, about the drinks because I’ve only had an iced coffee thus far. A really good iced coffee. I can report back when I’ve had my seven-word long latte beverage for comparison.

It’s just that the mid-century, schoolroom, grocery vibe sucked me in. The charming details and charming service won me over and trust me – I will become a fixture at Danneman’s. Cheers! And… TGIF!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bless her heart - she's no Champagne Lady!



OH MY JUDICE...

Incidentally - this program is why I learned to play the organ (a Thomas organ - just like Bob Ralston on the Welk Show) - which brought me to my tenure as mall organist at White Folks Mall in Springfield, IL.

Friday, October 3, 2008

2004? HILARIOUS!!



don't forget to register. don't forget to vote!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Substantial loss in a world overrun with the famous-for-nothing...

R.I.P.





















As we're overrun with ill-informed pundits and sex-tape celebrities - we've lost a man of style and substance...

An icon... a gifted actor... a spirited race car driver... and an innovative philanthropist.

My thoughts are with Joanne and the Newman family...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Penny Grigio here...a Sauvignon Buck there...

Pop the cork it's time to plaigerize myself!!

Recently a friend posted about some cheap wine treats. I wrote a pretty long [LONG] comment on the post and thought, upon re-reading it, that it may make for a fun read here... So here, then, is my two cents on wine and price:

"I used to work with wine + spirits clients when I lived in New York. I worked with restaurant clients in Chicago... At Whole Foods - we launched our first boxed wine product...

Here's the poop. Time after time...sommeliers and wine buyers alike told me - price, label, prestige matter less than what taste experience you seek. Do you like sweeter wines? That's not necessarily the hallmark of an uneducated palate as some wine snobs would have you believe. Sure - I think everyone may agree that white zin is the devil's own juice - but...

Two Buck Chuck? Serves a great purpose as a no-nonsense table sip. Lost Vineyards - an Argentine brand available for $2.97 at my Kroger (and at my local Whole Foods, too) - makes some neat blends. From a refreshing Pinto Grigio/Torrontes [an Argentine exclusive] blend, to a smooth Shiraz/Cabernet blend - it's less than $3 and quite nice.

Many boxed wines are indeed a deal and quite good. I know when we launched ours at WFM - it was from a reputable Australian producer and many believe the bladdered {I know - ugly word} box kept the wine fresher longer and you certainly couldn't beat the price.

SO - on a final note about this [pay attention, this part is good]. I worked with a client in New York...one of the most unreasonable, demanding, delusional clients I ever had the misfortune of performing flawlessly for with no recognition. Maison Nicolas offered a selection of really inexpensive, French varietal wines - all from $5.99 to $9.99 or so. We launched a wine called Consensus for them. We held a blind tasting at a 4-star NYC restaurant for wine writers and critics and the like. It was paired against, I believe, 6 other wines?! ALL of the wines were more expensive. This was around $7.99 or $8.99. Wouldn't you know it - this inexpensive wine didn't win - of course - the Consensus [I know bad pun] was that it scored smack dab in the middle of the $13 to $49 wines.

SO THERE!!! SIP what you like...enjoy and don't worry what people think!"

Cheers,
Michael

Thursday, September 11, 2008

addendum to today...

a friend just forwarded me our Email string from this day 7 years ago...

My out-of-office message gave me a twinge to see and read:
"I will be out of the office starting 09/11/2001 and will not return until 09/13/2001.

Due to the unfathomable tragedy unfolding in Manhattan - our offices will be closed today - and possibly tomorrow.
I will check voicemail on Wednesday.

Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those on the planes and at the World Trade Center.
I'll review E-mail and voicemail when I return to the office.

Michael Duffield
Senior Account Supervisor
Magnet Communications
t/212-367-6838
e/mduffield@magnetcom.com
www.magnetcommunications.com"

That Sunny Autumn Tuesday...

It's been seven years. Television, politics, real emotion...they're all going to collide today in New York. A while back when I was writing regularly for the Chattanooga Pulse - I, along with other contributors and readers, was asked to write of my memory of that earth-shattering day. I found what I wrote and thought I'd share it again - as it seems like yesterday.

Here then is my remembrance:
___________________________________________________

Just another lovely autumn day in New York. I was running a little late that Tuesday morning - no surprise. I was supposed to be at work in Chelsea at 9 AM. It was about 20 'til and I was ready to bolt out the door and hop onto the subway for the quick one-stop ride up to 14th St. My roommate hollered upstairs to take a look at the TV before I left. Odd - I thought. But - he didn't usually talk to me in the morning - and certainly not before I was caffeinated. So - I popped on NY1. Hmmm...looks like a Cessna flew off track and into one of the towers we agreed. Perhaps the pilot had had a heart attack? In fact, we had no clue the size or severity of the damage. It wasn't until the smoke became much more pronounced that it was apparent there was a large fire as well.

Terrible. Surprising. Frankly - not earth-shattering. But that changed very quickly. We say "good morning" and continue getting ready. I turn my back to my TV - having set the "sleep" timer and head for the door. My roommate screamed and I turned in time to see the fireball explode from the second tower. Speechless, shocked, a little weak-kneed, I stood dumbfounded - mouth agape. I immediately called my boss and told her what was happening and that I would be late. She laughed it off to my chronic tardiness. I had to really force the issue and stress the gravity of the situation and make her turn on a TV in one of the conference rooms.

Not knowing what else to do, I left and headed for work. I somehow knew I shouldn't take the subway, I didn't know why.

As I walked out of the building onto the street it was SO eery. If you've ever been to New York - you know what a MAJOR thoroughfare Avenue of the Americas, or Sixth Avenue, is. There it was... all traffic at a dead stop. Cars, cabs, trucks just stopped willy nilly. People standing in the street staring. Quietly. It was so quiet. I joined them and just stood there. Eventually someone ran out of a bodega and shouted "They hit the Pentagon." It really set in that things were simply not right. And it wasn't just Manhattan. Stunned - I began walking to work. I really didn't know what else to do.

As I walked slowly, kind of dazed, to work - I felt a rumble, the ground shaking, and heard people begin screaming. I turned to see tower one collapse. Initially, I thought it looked like an explosion because the smoke was rising. It wasn't until that smoke began clearing that it became obvious that the building was gone. I choked back a teary gasp and kept walking.

When I got to work everyone was in the main conference room watching events unfold on the large screen. I quickly called my parents in Las Vegas and told them that when they woke they'd see that terrible things were happening. But - that they should know I was OK and north of the area - living in what would become the first secured military zone - but far enough to only be shrouded in smoke several times as the wind shifted.

As we watched, the antenna shifted and we all gasped as we knew tower two was down. Bewildered, exhausted, we tried to see who could stay where since the bridges and tunnels were all closed and many of our co-workers lived in New Jersey, Connecticut and the outer boroughs. Some walked across the bridge to Brooklyn. And - end of day - they began ferry service to get folks off the island.

We all hugged and dispersed. Not really know what to do...I walked home watching and smelling the thick smoke from lower Manhattan. After hours and hours of watching the same horrible footage over and over and over again, I had to get out of the house. The only traffic on the street was military and emergency vehicles. It was surreal. Worse yet were the fighter jets that kept circling the city. Loud and unnerving. I made my way to my favorite neighborhood bar - The Monster. It was somber and pensive. But - there was a sense of community, comfort and familiarity. No one paid for drinks that night.

___________________________________________________

That's what I recall...

Monday, September 1, 2008

a summer Sunday in Atlanta - the next great American city...

SO - I finally got out of bed on Sunday. Donned a crisp white cotton shirt, red patchwork Madras shorts and my new butter-colored Converse All-Stars and set out on a walk.

As I strolled down the tree-canopied streets of my Midtown Atlanta neighborhood - I pondered the sturm und drang of my job search and the pursuit of new business... Would I have to leave my beloved new home to find work? What's next? My neck is beginning to exhibit the same stress aches that it did during the final weeks of my terrible tenure at Waterhouse PR in Chattanooga. Not a good sign.

But - the clear sky and warm air was relaxing.




I sat on a bench and began to unwind. The clear blue sky...the puffy white clouds...it was lovely. The breeze cooled the steamy summer air and kept my cool. It felt lush on my bare legs. I listened to the breeze rustling through the towering Oak trees and the shiny Magnolias...the Dogwoods...the Ginkgoes...it was lovely. In the distance - the faint sound of a trumpet wafted. Hilariously - it played "The Entertainer" and some Herb Alpert...it was a hoot...

The great equalizer of the city - its amazing green space - our Central Park - set my mind at ease. It was a lovely afternoon.

I hope I can stay here.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I've been thinkin'... YAY + NAY

SOAKED IN IT!
-PBS' coverage of the DNC Convention in Denver that showcased most of the speeches
-Tropical storm Fay bringing north Georgia much needed rain - and lots of it!
-PR firms, headhunters, and others that actually, personally return Emails and/or calls.
-Sami Hayek's groovy collection for Target - especially the stationery and notebook line
-Krystal's new Key Lime Pie MilkQuake
-Kroger's new 10 for $10 offerings
-Cloris Leachman on Dancing with the Stars!!

ALL DRIED UP!
-CNN's coverage of the DNC Convention in Denver that showcased the dozen talking heads endlessly discussing what was wrong with the convention agenda and Wolf CONSTANTLY pointing out that they were on the air more than other networks - of course CSPAN kicked their butts with no irritating punditry!
-PR firms, headhunters, and others that simply do not return calls or Emails. Even a stock bounceback "thank you" response is more acceptable than not knowing if you've thrown your resume into a black hole.
-Politicos [left and right] rehashing words or activities or issues of the past. What's next?!
-any and all Kardashians
-FOXNews' "Red Eye" - what a stinker...a lame attempt to "counter" The Daily Show.
-Wal-Mart's new logo designed to showcase their new, upscale offerings and lifestyle experience. HUH? Let's face it - they took the star out of their logo because they've driven manufacturing overseas.
-Pizza Hut's new "Dunkers" - imagine the brainstorm... "How can we use our dough one more way and make sure to make it as tasty and unhealthy as possible..."

Friday, August 22, 2008

um...thank you?

Ahhh...automated response mechanisms...

Sometimes they're a polite punctuation to a process that can overwhelm a person or company: "Thanks for your interest...we'll keep your information on file..."

Sometimes they just add insult to injury.

My current search for work - be it creative consulting or full-time, senior-level staff positions - has taken me down many paths. One of those paths led to a cool position with a woefully low salary [and sky-high expectations, I imagine]. I was - undoubtedly - overqualified. But as the Bush economy sputters on - it's about the bird in the hand - if you know what I mean - and it was a cool opp with what I thought was a decidedly groovy company....

BUT - nearly a month after I was personally rejected for the position by the focused 20-something I interviewed with - I received one such automated rejection letter. LOL!

I know the technical aspects of data entry and resume follow-up... However, since its signature was from the EXACT property I was interviewing to rep [albeit a generic HR signature] and not corporate HR it did cause me to pause...grimace...then laugh a little...then laugh a bunch...

Then I opened the metaphorical window and yelled - NEXT!!!!!!

"Dear Michael,

Thank you for your interest in Starwood Hotels and Resorts. We have received your application for the position of Marketing Manager (Job #60066130) at W Atlanta, Downtown and regret to inform you that we are not able to offer you a position at this time.

We recognize that you have many options available to you regarding future employment, and we sincerely appreciate your interest in us. We extend to you our wishes for a rewarding and successful career and invite you to visit us at www.starwood.jobs to view and apply for future career opportunities.

Best Regards,
Human Resources Department
W Atlanta, Downtown
"

TGIF Ya'll!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A tire gauge and a smug gesture...DRAW your own conclusions

This is just great. I love CBS Sunday Morning anyway... but this little segment really encapsulated the difference between our two presidential candidates. Normally everyone knows my political bent so I steer clear of political topics. But - it just paints such a clear picture between the two "choices."

Click HERE to see the cool video
[I am having a devil of a time embedding video - damn!]

McCain - the former firebrand, former independent thinker has really taken the Bush and party line (along with the hook and sinker) since 2000. His mad rush to drill off our shores would - EVENTUALLY, at best yield oil resulting in 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline per year - when all is said and done. And - when would that be?

Barack Obama's simple suggestion (just one little part of a greater plan) for all Americans to drive with properly inflated tires would save 3%. What's that? That equals 1.2 billion gallons of gasoline per year. One simple step. Immediate. Actionable.

The real difference lies in the good Senator from Arizona's response - which was keep big oil happy and to hand out tire gauges and smugly deride Senator Obama's suggestion. It's that same, smug, smart-ass, superior attitude that we've been saddled with for 8 years.

It's time for change. A generational change. A seismic change.

Meanwhile - I've gotta go. Gonna fill up my tires!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Service with a Shrug© 2.0 – shame on Comcast, Walgreens, Concentrics Restaurants and Trois, and Georgia Power

My first post about service standards, issues and opportunities was much more in-depth than this round-up will be. Though the tales may be accompanied by specific recommendations and solutions for the individual service issues I encountered.

Comcast
Well…wouldn’t you know less than 4 hours after my first post about this conglomerate [who just purchased Daily Candy – by the way] inexplicably raising my rates with no notice, no reason, no increase of service I received an Email from a customer service representative.

The cordial missive asked if they might put me in touch with a local representative since money “…seems like a great concern to you [me].”

Not money. Service.

I wrote back and explained that while money is of a particularly urgent concern for me at the moment – poor customer service shows up more dramatically on my radar. I invited the rep to learn about how my Atlanta payment ended up in Chattanooga and how I had to pay a reconnection fee and how I had to drive 35 minutes to the nearest center to do so....

Interesting. Ms. Melissa never wrote back. In fact, I’ve not heard a peep from anyone at Comcast. Half-assed customer service efforts are more offensive than being completely ignored.

Boo!

Trois / Concentrics Restaurants
I have to get this one off my chest so that I can gush later about Concentrics’ newest Atlanta venture – Parish – which I’ve enjoyed. Sadly – I had been under self-imposed boycott due to the completely unacceptable customer service experience I had at swanky Trois.

One cold winter evening a visiting friend and I had some appetizers and drinks at Trois. Service was swell. Food was good. We asked for some bread to accompany our soup course. Simple. Once we left and examined our check/receipt closely – we noticed that we were charged $4 for two [2] small demi-baguettes – dinner rolls really.

Seemed chintzy and out of character for the company. I logged on to their site and shared my surprise and disappointment via their online customer comment page. Had we just ordered drinks and wanted some bread – maybe charge us. $4 – no. When we ordered 4 or 5 different apps – NO! I thought perhaps I’d get a response and perhaps they’d reverse the $4 from my visitor’s charge card. I mean – at the very least I expected a response. Sadly none came.

Here’s where it gets ugly. Further disappointed I logged back and sent another comment to the company. When – yet again – I received absolutely no response – I decided to remove them from my groovy visitor go-to list. IF you have a comment process on your site – have someone to monitor those comments and respond. If that part of your site is down for some reason – note that on your site. If it’s there and it works and you simply ignore disgruntled guests – shame on you. OK – off my chest so I can enjoy Parish without too much guilt – as their baked goods are much more reasonably priced than the sad rolls we paid $4 for.

Walgreens
ACK. This one really got to me. Thankfully I can shop at CVS and Rite Aid – which I intend to do from now on. Makes me sad since Walgreens is a good, old Chicago company.

I’ll spare you the story of my printer cartridge debacle and the team member that snuck away. I’ll get straight to the point here. I was picking up pictures I had developed. Standing at the photo counter. The person helping me – was several feet away at the register. Standing DIRECTLY in front of me were two other people with their backs to me – making sure, I sensed, that I knew not to ask them for anything. Less than 36 inches away – two people had their own conversation as though I didn’t exist – even engaging the associate attempting to help me.

Someone walked in the store – on the opposite side of the whole space – and asked if they sold lottery tickets. This is where it gets icky. The fellow standing in front of me turned on his heels and said “NO.” Then proceed to tell his colleague that “that’s all we need is those kind of people in here.” He continued – “…besides I don’t like gambling. It really bothers me.” Really?! Do I care? Do I need to hear you disparaging other customers? Is this appropriate? When I joked “Hey! Be careful…my parents live in Las Vegas.” Bitchy again spun on his heels and barked, “Excuse me - I was NOT speaking to you sir!” and returned to his conversation. WHOA! NOW – that’s more than a SHRUG! And – dear reader – make no mistake – when you’re less than 3 feet from someone making loud, judgmental comments about things, other customers, etc. – you ARE speaking to me. And you should think about what you’re saying and how it represents your store – and ultimately – your brand.

Employee training and standards would make a HUGE difference here.

Georgia Power
At first I thought this didn’t exactly fit – but – it actually does. Let me begin by saying that as a responsible adult – if I thought for one moment that my power would be cut on the hottest day yet in the deep, down dirty I would’ve moved heaven and earth to avoid it.

SO – when the Georgia Power site pushed a pop-up disconnect notice at me informing me of an impending service interruption on August 27th – I made note of it. Then about 30 minutes later on August 5th my monitor went black.

One plaintive call later the first snitty rep I spoke with informed me that the cut-off date was, indeed, that day despite the clear and specific notice I had just received from their own site. The explanation was convoluted, senseless and NOT consumer friendly!

Needless to say – I hustled and made a payment over the phone [love my landline and non-digital phone). When speaking with a slightly less snitty rep on my follow-up call letting them know of my payment [for which I was charged a $3.95 processing fee – REALLY?!?!] I was informed, at least somewhat politely, that they’d get the power on as soon as possible today – not specific – but much nicer than the first bitchy reps “Some time before midnight…”

Here’s the rub – BIG companies embracing the web is good for a myriad of reasons and purposes. BIG companies embracing the web but not synching their info, facts and finances – combined with company reps who can’t converse like people instead just repeating scripted answers and phrases – is bad.

That’s digital Service with a Shrug!

P.S. - if the tech turns on the power - but shuts off the box because of a power surge - couldn't the tech walk the 10 feet to my door and let me know and let me know that I need to shut off my breaker box - flip the switch outside and turn on my breaker box? It happened twice - meaning the tech had to visit twice and I had to wait an additional 2 hours until a phone rep [this one quite nice and helpful] explained the situation and how to remedy it. Otherwise - I'd still be sitting in the dark.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A little silly summer fun...

I am working on a "Service with a Shrug 2.0" posting...

BUT - for now...I stumbled across a little summer silly... TLC's Rock the Reception is a hoot.



Ordinary (but clearly fun-loving) couples decide to surprise EVERYONE at their reception and work with professional choreographers to plan a knock-out first dance. Sometimes the Best Man and Maid of Honor are part of the numbers.

This show may have been inspired by Amy and Robert's (yes...Everybody Loves Raymond) surprise at their reception...



In a summer full of - what my Momma would call "CRAP & CORRUPTION" - It's fun. Light. Great to watch the reaction shots of the families and friends.

Surely made me smile!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

R.I.P. Sophia Petrillo...













[AP photo]

Estelle Getty made us laugh. Still does - at least 4 times a day on Lifetime. The Golden Girls continue to give me hope for the future [as they have for 20-some years...eep!]...a fun, feisty, sassy old age.

She passed away today at 84. Here she comes Sal!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Skewed priorities...self-referential media gets it wrong














[AP photo]
This man had a groundbreaking medical career of over 70 years and saved thousands of lives.
















[wikipedia photo]
This man wrote speeches for Bush 1, guest-hosted for Rush Limbaugh, and was press secretary for Bush 2 for a little more than a year.

Both passed the same week. But - their lives/careers oddly didn't receive quite the same coverage. Why is that odd?

Dr. Michael E. DeBakey - deemed the father of modern cardiovascular surgery, invented dozens of medical procedures and tools, developed the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital and created what later became the VA hospital system.

DeBakey performed the first successful heart bypass operation [a procedure he developed], the first successful removal of a blockage of the main artery of the neck, and in 1966 he created a partial artificial heart. He performed more than 60,000 operations.

Yet - my unofficial, admittedly incomplete, monitor of recent media shows that the former FOX news personality received as much, or more, broadcast coverage as this pioneering medical genius. From "Breaking News" announcements to obits to follow-up coverage of his funeral. Just made me wonder... Would Dr. DeBakey's passing have received more attention had he been a major network's "chief medical correspondent?"

Both passings are sad. One - obviously too soon... One after a long, productive life... But who, in the end, contributed more? Just something I've been pondering.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A little minty commercial joy...


[from the DQ site]

OK...have to admit it... The new DQ THIN MINT BLIZZARD KICKS ASS!

What a yummy, naughty treat! Love the cookies...love the flavor combo... Other than the fact that chocolate cookies and products get a little funny (waxy?) when frozen - it's a dream!

Made a tough day really swell.

Get 'em while they last.

Of course - I do have a thing for chocolate and mint - HELLO!?!?! Chalmers Ultra Mint Ganache...my delicious client!

Cheers!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Band of Brothers... or so I'm told

Separated at birth?

What do you say?






used to be Robert Downey, Jr. [during my younger, thinner days]... have heard Nathan Lane...

NOW - it's comedian Eddie Izzard and Top Chef Richard Blais [from Atlanta]...

What say you?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Yeah...America's 232 - but... 51 years ago...

Connie Doman married Graham Duffield...













It's been 51 years and no one got killed...

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY MOM + DAD!!!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Reason #1,437,632 why Comcast is evil

Just a quick rant...

So funny how they make fun of the "big, expensive phone company..." When they jack rates around at will and fees and then when you call them on it - have no real answer. SO - I noticed that my cable went from $49.99 to $52.50. Sure - $2.51 may not sound like much...but when you're working to scare up consulting work - it all adds up. AND - why, exactly, do they deserve it?

I called to find out.

Well...Little Miss was so friendly. Then it happened. Not only did she tell me it went into effect in February or March [my fault for taking so long to call them, I know...]... But...

wait for it...

when pressed on what additional service or changes were made to warrant the hike

Little Miss told me that "it's like gasoline. It just goes up."

Cable is, in fact, NOTHING like gasoline. And - not only was that the most insanely inappropriate thing to say - but - she actually fanned the flames by telling I could get additional service by bumping up to the $79.99/ month package. When I explained that I had called because I already felt ripped off and wasn't prepared to spend EVEN MORE with the evil empire - she just ignored me.

When asked what the cheapest, most basic plan available was - I was told I had it. Isn't there a minimal, local, network [ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, FOX, CW] only plan that's really inexpensive - around $20 or so? There was in a previous Comcast market I lived in... If she lied - well...I guess it's no surprise.

COMCAST IS EVIL.

BOO COMCAST!!! Now I know why there are a million rants against them on the Consumerist [they are part of the sites "Sweet 16" worst companies] where I will, moving forward, let others' words tell the tales...

ACK!

Monday, June 23, 2008

re-post: Where the rubber meets the road... ME on TV!

I've media trained dozens of people...

Here's where I try to remember it all... Oh - and a tasty drink recipe too on a great local program called "Style"

I've tried and tried to embed the video - but cannot seem to make it work...so, here's the link

Thanks to the GREAT folks at WBIR in Knoxville...and to my stellar helper Dejie Johnson!

I hope this is the first of many TV appearances - it was really fun and, frankly, deep down I've always thought I should be on TV.

THE RECIPE
The Chalmers Hot Mama Martini
This kicky drink is an uncommon way to unwind after a hot, stressful day – or a great way to end a spicy Latin-inspired meal and features Chalmers Mucho Mayan Spice Ganache. The recipe is kicked up a notch with vanilla soy milk and by the addition of a splash of spicy, cinnamon schnapps.

Chalmers’ Hot Mama Martini

Ingredients
handful of ice
1 oz. Dekuyper Hot Damn Cinnamon Schnapps, to taste
3 oz. vodka
4 oz. Spicy Chalmers Ganache Milk Base (recipe below)
cinnamon stick, to garnish
Instruction
Fill a cocktail shaker half full of ice. Add schnapps and vodka. Fill to 1 or 2 inches from the top of the shaker with spicy milk base, to taste. Put the lid on and shake well. Strain into a cold martini glass and garnish with cinnamon sticks.

Spicy Chalmers Ganache Milk Base

Ingredients
Chalmers Chocolate Mucho Mayan Spice Ganache
Vanilla soy milk
Instruction
For the base (also chocolate milk drinks), heat approximately 2 heaping tablespoons Chalmers Mucho Mayan Spice
Ganache to 1-2 cups soy milk, to taste, in a saucepan, stirring constantly until thoroughly combined. Cool completely.
Chocolate milk base can be stored in the refrigerator up to 5 days. Give it a stir when ready to serve.

TIP: This chocolatey base can be made ahead and used in any drink in place of chocolate milk

CHEERS!

[note I reposted this because for some reason - this posted on the date I began the draft - not today - go figure]

Friday, June 20, 2008

Home again, home again - jiggity jig...

Well dear reader[s?]...

Back in the deep down dirty after a fabulous week in fabulous Las Vegas!













Visiting my fabulous parents!













Happy Father's Day Dad!
[this is from Christmas - there's no velvet in 108 degree heat!]

More on my trip and a delicious little rant about the most decidedly evil Comcast to come...

Hope you missed me.

TGIF!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Elotes! Elotes! Elotes! The delicious cry of Logan Square...in East Atlanta Village

HOT summer days on Chicago's near northwest side....

I lived in one of the few remaining historic boulevard neighborhoods in Chicago. It was predominantly single-family - so while much of the city west of - say - Ashland Avenue went through some rough transitions - this elegant area - between Diversey and Armitage, Kedzie and the Kennedy Expressway (or Western Avenue) - was tattered but not torn, per se. I lived there with the multitudes of Latin families and curious others in love with the architecture and the sweeping boulevards and Monument Circle.

One fond memory was the delicious cry of the entrepreneur with his push cart with frozen fruit bars (mango, coconut, strawberry...) and - yes - ELOTES!!!! OR corn.

Not just any corn - but grilled corn on the cob with a schmear of mayonnaise (wait - don't poo-poo it yet) and a sprinkling of cotija cheese and option butter and paprika... At $1 - it was a beautiful thing. A simple thing. A delicious thing. Satisfying and joyful. I'm sure that this treat isn't unique to Chicago...but - it was where I learned about it - one of my favorite street foods!!!



AND... NOW... I found it in the deep down dirty...

Atlanta's East Atlanta Village is a neat blend of shops, bars, independent thinkers and food. Holy Taco is a new addition. Some don't get the taqueria pricing/menu - and moan about the lack of a blop of refried beans and/or salty filler rice with their tacos (TRY THE BRISKET!!!!!). AND - at $3 a pop - the Elotes Asado is more than I'm used to - but - hey - this isn't 1990's Logan Square and it was EVERY BIT as yummy and naughty and fresh and fun as the tasty treat I used to run down the stairs from my third floor flat to buy.

Great patio. Sweet, but refreshing white sangria and Elotes. A perfect summer night.

Holy Taco
1314 Glenwood Avenue
404/230-6177
check out their menu

Friday, May 30, 2008

R.I.P. Harvey Korman...classy...hilarious

When I think about growing up with the Carol Burnett Show as part of my Saturday night routine, it breaks my heart to hear of the loss of Harvey Korman.

It was a cleaner, simpler, gentler, classier time...



could always count on Conway to crack him up...



oh Mama...

sigh...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Fabulously Inappropriate...

In case you missed this on Daily Candy...


















Sometimes you just can't find exactly the words or right card at Hallmark or from Carlton [and this word has somehow made a strong comeback into our modern lexicon]...


















Even with their expanded card section, you won't likely see these at Target or Papyrus...


















Even the company name is fun and, well, dear reader, describes at least some of you.

How deliciously elegant and angry... Not quite Mrs. John L. Strong - LOL!

They also have some other fun naughties - check them out.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Bon Appepig - or - When Pigs Fly...



Ever have one of those parties?

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Now...where are those hot dogs?

[SPOILER ALERT: incidentally - the sound made when the pig jams in the dam tickles me]

Friday, May 23, 2008

Where the rubber meets the road... ME on TV...

I've media trained dozens of people...

Here's where I try to remember it all... Oh - and a tasty drink recipe too on a great local program called "Style"

I've tried and tried to embed the video - but cannot seem to make it work...so, here's the link:
http://www.wbir.com/video/default.aspx?maven_playerId=immersiveplayer&maven_referralPlaylistId=playlist&maven_referralObject=750891321

Thanks to the GREAT folks at WBIR in Knoxville...and to my stellar helper Dejie Johnson!

I hope this is the first of many TV appearances - it was really fun and, frankly, deep down I've always thought I should be on TV.

Cheers!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Moms...separated at birth?

I have often thought these two cute moms could be sisters...

Letterman's Mom












Ellen's Mom

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I laughed so hard I _____ed.

Match Game is an American treasure. There I said it.

For those of you who think Match Game was [insert age-related hilarity here]... Match Game was a fabulous game show in the 70s... Many of the participants were tipsy...many smoked on the set. There's a retro image, eh? Bret Somers and Charles Nelson Reilly [RIP to both], Fanny Flagg, Nipsy Russell, Richard Dawson, Betty White (yes - children - she had a career before Ugly Betty and even before the Golden Girls - which Lifetime is apparently getting rid of - but that's another topic for another day), and a rotating cast of celebs - all wrangled by wry host Gene Rayburn played what was basically a game of Mad Libs -with naughty double-entendres. Most of the racy stuff was pretty tame by today's standards.

ANYWAY - last night SNL did a hilarious take on Match Game with "It's a Match." The beloved host was murdered and the exasperated detective had to get answers to his questions written on note cards a la Match Game. It was well-done, well-timed and pretty damn funny "Magic..." Nice job Shia. Amy and Fred were swell as Bret and Charles. AND the names they came up with for the celebs were fun, too.

Take a look.



Hope they repeat this premise somehow! And...on a Mother's Day note - my Mom LOVES Match Game... Happy Mother's Day Connie!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Cheers to Mom!

This weekend is Mother's Day.

If your Mom digs cocktails like mine does - here's one I developed for my client Chalmers Ganache...

It's a heady concoction and an intriguing blend of flavors. And - the decanter of purple vodka is pretty to have around...

Liqueur de Violette is a French liqueur that’s nearly impossible to find in the United States - though I ran across at at a swell neighborhood spot - TopFlr once the uber-hip bartender warmed up to us... The recipe approximates its floral notes by infusing a vodka of choice with Monin’s violet syrup.



Chalmers’ Violet Momtini
Ingredients
handful of ice
3 oz. violet vodka (recipe below made with Monin Violette)
6 oz. Chalmers Ganache Milk Base (recipe below)
crystallized violet petals, to garnish
Instruction
Fill a cocktail shaker half full of ice. Add violet vodka. Fill to 1 or 2 inches from the top of the shaker. Put the lid on and shake well. Strain into a cold Martini glass and sprinkle with crystallized violet petals.


Violet Vodka
Ingredients
2 oz. Monin Violette - violet syrup
16 oz. vodka of choice
Instruction
Blend Monin syrup and vodka in a decanter or bottle, to taste. Let flavors meld at least 2 hours prior to preparing cocktail

Chalmers Ganache Milk Base
Ingredients
Chalmers Chocolate Luxe Dark Ganache
Whole Milk or Half-and-Half
Instruction
For the base (also drinking chocolate beverages), heat 1 part Chalmers Luxe Dark Ganache to 1 part whole milk, to taste - I tend to go a little heavy on the ganache, in a saucepan, stirring constantly until thoroughly combined. Cool completely. Chocolate milk base can be stored in the refrigerator up to 5 days. Give it a stir when ready to serve.
TIP: This chocolaty base can be made ahead and used in any drink in place of chocolate milk

CHEERS MOM!

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Economy, My Front Left Tire and Debra Messing...

Name three things that are flat. YAY!

















[not my actual tire]

It's official - the temporary economic readjustment [or whatever the W PR machine has branded our deepening recession] - is real. The big screw in the sidewall of my tire showed me that. I'm no stranger to belt tightening [alas - the financial kind] having had my own consultancy for 8+ years in Chicago and for the past 3 years [2 in a dead market that required extensive explanation and the past 1 in the next great American city where I'm just beginning to make my name in a crowded marketplace...

So - when my local tire-a-teria informed me that the damage was irreparable and the a new tire would be $125 - I was - well - rather literally screwed. But - I knew there was a better way.

Let's hear it for Google - which is how I discovered my wheel's savior - The Good Used Tire Shop

So - I made my way to Metropolitan Parkway in South Atlanta. Let me tell you - a gently used, tready tire installed for $25 was to me like water to Lake Lanier...

The young man from Cameroon provided stellar service and a lilting accent. I felt compelled to offer him a gratuity. So even at $30 - I got a bargain and a pleasant customer service experience - both quite rare these days. It's an important lesson - there's always an alternative. In fact, in the coming days - Mr. Thrifty will share tips on keeping your grocery bill down a little bit...

TGIF!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My new slant on caffeine

L O V E
L O V E
L O V E
Love Tilt! Tilt Room as it's more formally known is my new favorite coffee house in Atlanta. If ya'll know me - ya' know I loves to caffeinate, sit and chat. This is the spot. Named, I'm sure, because the walls literally lean or tilt, this Castleberry Hill original is a comfy space to visit and sip. While hip and mod - it doesn't have the same cold feeling of a space like Sip in Lindbergh - which feels more self-consciously hip and isn't as comfortable.

Ikea and West Elm furnishings are familiar and comfortable. It's a nice balance between style and comfort. From the large, glass garage door [see photo below] that opens the front of the cafe to the sidewalk to the groovy TV viewing/yoga room in the rear, Tilt delivers a welcoming vibe - and a good mocha.

Of course - I thought the crooked bookshelves were part of the intelligent design. They were, actually, in need of repair as the books [available to read while sipping] were slipping off. OK - so that clever idea was just in my head. Intriguing art exhibits cleverly mounted to the slanted walls and individual flat TV screens for the 2-tops along one wall round out the neat space.






Cheers to Tilt











[photo from Tilt]
Just wish they were open on Sunday.

Friday, April 25, 2008

TGIF TOTD...

Thought of the day...

From the amazing Dr. Rick [circuitously through the amazing Ms. Janis Hashe - Google her articles, seriously!] - a Buddhist passage
“Let me respectfully remind you, life and death are of supreme importance.

Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost.

Each of us should strive to awaken.

Awaken. Take heed.

Do not squander your life.”

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Finally...budget lodging with style. Motel 6 nails it.

Remember when Motel 6 rooms were $6? I almost do...

Anyway - lower cost lodging in America has long been relegated to the world of polyester and bad, BAD Formica. Now - Motel 6 has taken the time to reinvent itself and has announced its first new concept in years.

Dubbed - Motel 6 "Phoenix" [for the rising...not the desert city] the new look is stylish and fun. Even the bathrooms get a sharp makeover featuring the popular "bowl on counter" sink concept...



The faux wood floors and bold color blocks are appealing and stylish. The overall look is of a clean, mod boutique hotel. It's about time this concept came to the budget lodging category.

Style and affordability aren't mutually exclusive. Look at Starwich and Fresh2Order (forgive their website) for great dining in stylish surroundings at a reasonable cost.

Now if Old Navy can rescue themselves and become the American H&M they should be...

See...budget can be boutique. It doesn't have to be bed bugs and bad flower prints...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Workin' at the car RINSE? Workin' at the car RINSE, yeah?

Chalk up another odd customer service experience to greed and bad decision making.

SHAME on the Chevron station at Ponce and Piedmont. Not only is their gas a full 20+ cents more than other local stations (YAY QT and Kroger)...but - on my way to meeting someone I encountered the MOST absurd thing I have in ages.

Ridiculous greed.

I put some gas in my car - as I was in a time crunch on the way to the airport to pick up a friend. I noticed a reduced rate for a car wash with purchase and since I haven't washed my car in months (per Mayor Shirley and Governor Sonny) - I thought I'd get it cleaned. So - I told the gentleman behind the plexi-wall that I wanted $10 gas and the $4 express wash (normally $5)...

When he told me that that wash was a rinse only - my jaw dropped. Nowhere NOWHERE did any signage mention that. In fact - the express was to include a "velvet brush wash" or some verbiage like that and a "spot free rinse" or such per the sign on the pump and at the counter...

SO - how would any car wash in any kind of good faith charge $4 to spray a car with water? AND - the sign clearly indicated a "wash" of some kind. Simple, pollen season greed.

I got $5 gas and left. Dirty and disgusted. Have you ever?

SHAME ON CHEVRON AT PONCE & PIEDMONT!!!!

Friday, April 18, 2008

TGI-feeling good-F!!!

"Birds flying high you know how I feel
Sun in the sky you know how I feel
Reeds driftin' on by you know how I feel

It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life
For me
And I'm feeling good"



Amidst all the tsuris and mishigaas of life...a ray of sunshine...

A great customer service experience with Texas Health Credit Union. A beautiful conversation with my treasured friend Jose Perales that made me cry [did I have a mini-stroke?]. A laugh-filled morning coffee with a glorious ray of sunshine Miss Tiffany Davis. A stunning day in Atlanta...

I'm embraced by a complete sense of well-being and joy. No worries about being doughy... no worries of money issues [not enough dough - LOL]... no worries about work issues... Just a sense of calm and happiness.

How cool.

And...I'm, indeed, feeling good.

Monday, April 14, 2008

K is for Kirkwood...

As with any great city, Atlanta is lousy with little, up-and-coming neighborhoods where bungalows are being rehabbed and nifty destinations pop up. Little Five Points is probably the precursor to many of the small ‘hoods – most close to the I-20 corridor. East Atlanta Village is an established destination. Now – Kirkwood is coming into its own.

The neighborhood – east of Moreland Avenue on Hosea Williams Drive - can trace its beginnings to “suburban” development in the late 1800s. By the early 20th century, streetcars connected – what was then considered a suburb – to Atlanta.

Incorporated as an independent municipality in 1899 – the charming neighborhood is now part of the city and boasts several buildings nominated for the National Register of Historic Places.

I stumbled across the neighborhood caffeinating with the groovy Miss Tiffany Davis at Gathering Grounds. Officially one of my favorite Atlanta coffee spots, their foodstuffs aren’t necessarily stellar – but the vibe, comfort-level and service is!

Fuel Pizza is a neighborhood pioneer that I've heard great things about. AND - it looks like another new place is going in next to it. Ace's looks like a rockin' spot and seems to have a great brunch.

In one of Atlanta's ubiquitous mixed-use developments a hip restaurant/music venue called Vinocity Winebar has landed (having left Midtown).

In addition to a broad menu and well-curated wine selection - this lofty, two-story spot has occasional live music and will soon feature a wine store as well! I had the fortunate occasion of dining their recently. The service rocked. My dining pal (HEY JANIS!) and I split a couple of apps with great, tart lemon drop martinis {forego the sugar rim!}. I thought the duck confit had a strange aftertaste. The crabcakes were, however, swell! Next time I HAVE to try the deconstructed pulled pork ravioli! When it came time for entrees - Janis enjoyed the Chicken Roulade - which was sauced with a lush reduction (a rosemary jus - perhaps?) and served with killer mac and cheese! I chose the evening's special. Sort of a stuffed steak Oscar - if you will. The asparagus was perfectly al dente - especially for large stalks - and the steak itself was DELICIOUS - cooked to order and full of grilled flavor. Did we have dessert? Well - yes. I devoured [DEVOURED] a delightful carrot cake and Janis coveted her bread pudding. Great wine pairings and AMAZING music rounded out the evening. I'll be damned if I can recall the singer's name. Sort of a cross between Jamiroquai and The Style Council. Neat space. Nice people. The wildly diverse crowd - from a fun group of rowdy GRLZ to the Japanese birthday party and unfortunate Hilton Head-style fella in the whale-embroidered shorts and topsiders - lent a welcoming, inclusive vibe.

In the same development - which helps anchor the "downtown" is a gorgeous little gourmet shop - Le Petit Marche. While a wee bit spendy - it's a beautiful collection of foods and some staples as well as a little sandwich bar.



In addition, Mission Motif - a great home furnishings and lighting store focused exclusively on the myriad of Mission and Craftsman bungalows of Atlanta is there. More shops - including Arden's Garden and Kirkwood Feed & Seed, a new public library and the East Lake Station stop on Marta - make it accessible. Affordable housing - by most accounts - helps make it an intriguing destination - and one more Atlanta neighborhood to explore.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The NEW home of the Whopper...

What a cool concept.

Many fast food chains have dabbled in brand extensions with mixed results - JBX Bistro from Jack in the Box...Market Fresh by Arbys (I - for one - am a big fan of this concept, especially with addition of reasonably priced hand-tossed salads - hear me Chop't?)...Boston Market Grill...and McDonald's myriad of tester concepts. Well - BK has developed a new concept that showcases their signature sandwich.




Welcome the Whopper Bar.

Sexy design...stepped up options...developed for limited footprint spaces - the new concept exalts the sandwich that their recent ad campaign showed has engendered deep consumer loyalty - The Whopper. Imagine a smaller, sexier Fuddrucker's...

The image shows dark wood...stainless steel...flatscreen images of fire (flame-broiled, after all)...it will likely include an open, interactive "build-your-own" option for consumers who really want it their way.

A smart, fun, updated, fresh way to invigorate the 51-year-old icon. Can't wait!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Boy - Seth + Amy are busy this week...concealed weapons on MARTA? REALLY?!

Unfortunately - as we deal with traffic and sprawl - Georgia lawmakers have given drivers reason to avoid MARTA...

According to HB257 - Georgians with concealed weapons permits would be allowed to carry guns on MARTA and into restaurants as long as they don't imbibe... yeah - that's a good rule. So easy to enforce.

This is embarrassing - and scary!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

re: "The Finger"

I'm relieved to say - it was indeed a fan-freakin'-tastic April Fool's prank!

Whew!

Let icons be icons...

Note to Nestle: per Seth + Amy - "REALLY!?!?"

After 80 years as Butterfinger (remember Bart admonishing all those tempted not to lay a finger on his Butterfinger?) - the marketing and brand management gurus at Nestle have decided to change the name to "The Finger." So unless this is an elaborate April Fool's Day gesture, I say...

Really?!?!

Apparently this was studied for 2 years and consumers found the old name represented "undesirable traits." It's the name of a freakin' candy bar. Now after 80 years and 2 years of corporate fiddling (analysis paralysis), the name makes me think of unpleasant traffic gestures... I am sure there's a tongue in cheek nod to that in some smug marketers mind [or 04/01 joke]. It sounds - to me - somewhat uncivilized.

Why not embrace Butterfinger's clumsy connotation and have commercials featuring surprise celebs catching and tearing into a fumbled bar? How - now after 80 years - does the name imply that it's candy for only clumsy people [this according to Nestle research]???

Really?!?!

Just like spelling quick with a "K" and a "W" it just seems like one more dumbing down of an American icon.

What's next?
-Milky Way - becomes "WAY!" I can hear it now... "No way!??! WAY!"
-Charleston Chew is - The CHEW
-M+Ms become M's
-Since few young consumers really know about Baby Ruth - it's now just Baby..."Baby got nougat."
-Similarly Oh Henry becomes ChocoRod. What? It's still a baseball reference - right?! A. Rod?

Just not buyin' it. As we shorten every product name and spelling and smart-ass up the identities of iconic brands we lose a little bit of American consumer history and we inch ever further away from being the civilized bunch we think we are. God forbid someone have to crack open a dictionary or look at a map.

I, for one, won't be begging for anyone to give me "The Finger."






[If it isn't a joke, it, sadly, comes as little surprise...]

Monday, March 31, 2008

mmmm... BUTTER BEANS, BUTTER BEANS!

They're back! Holy Crap! How fabulous!










[Rock Lobster from thefunkstore.com]



The fun...the silly joy...the distinct sound...the groovy gals...my youth...
THE B-52's!!!!!

OH - and WHERE THE F@#$ IS THE FUNPLEX - I SOOOOO WANNA GO!!!!
[OK - not this one]

Friday, March 28, 2008

Clever minds think alike... How to: TO DO

I was chatting with my friend/colleague - the fabulous Tiffany Davis - and mentioned this entry and she told me that she and her sig-oth do the same thing! At first I thought - DAMN! Then I thought how neat that we both do the same thing...

SO - here's a fun tip for Friday. If you're like me and keep written to do lists on hand, to make sure you accomplish what you need to, this will make it fun and easy.

Go to a restaurant supply store or office supply store [OR your favorite cafe and see if they'll let you poach one] and pick up some "Guest Check" pads...



The box for date on top can be handy if you've got a full day - or you can use it for a "week ending" reminder...

Server? For your initials. The small box on the left column is to check off completed tasks...the two on the right can be for notes or codes or follow up intructions.



Looks neat.
Is handy.
Is simple.


How's that?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Cultural conservatism vs. media and "edutainment"

I've been meaning to share this...

kind of an eye-opener on how the cultural conservatives have been able to dumb down and pollute SO many parts of American life...

I forgot how much I enjoy Now [loved Brancaccio on Marketplace, too] and Bill Moyers' show

Sadly - Susan Jacoby, author of The Age of American Unreason really hit the mark on Moyers' show recently...

Check her out and click through to the interview - really worth watching...

Made me want to buy a map!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What I would've said...

To the lovely young Indian girl in the bumblebee skirt and blouse chatting obliviously on her Swarovski-crusted cell phone...

"Darling...the stripes on the pavement don't stop cars when you walk out in front of them at unguarded street crossings - just like stop signs and stop lights don't stop other cars when you're driving..."

In other words - you're lucky I didn't hit you...and may not be so lucky with the next driver. Less talk. More walk.

Pay freakin' attention!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Well...It COULD happen tomorrow... ATL's wild ride!


The Weather Channel is right! Their popular show became eerily real here this weekend.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution had some great shots of the destruction from the EF2 tornado that ripped through the city and right through downtown.

"Where'd I park?" Quelle Drag!

photos by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

So lucky that there weren't any serious injuries - though, unfortunately, some northern rural counties suffered several fatalities on Saturday...

With Mayor Shirley Franklin's [is she going to run for Governor?!?] leadership things are pretty quickly returning to normal - but what a handful for so many!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hmmm...to smirk or to grin? A quick take...

Did you ever wonder what the difference was between a smirk and a grin [too Rooney?]? I did - since I often suggest that I smirk in photographs of myself.

Well...I was shocked to find out how negatively my beloved "smirk that works" was defined.

Take a look - from dictionary.com:
grin [grin] verb, grinned, grin·ning, noun
–verb (used without object)
1.
to smile broadly, esp. as an indication of pleasure, amusement, or the like.
2.
to draw back the lips so as to show the teeth, as a snarling dog or a person in pain. [OK - well there is this...]
3.
to show or be exposed through an opening, crevice, etc.
–verb (used with object)
4.
to express or produce by grinning: The little boy grinned his approval of the gift.
–noun [THE LITTLE BOY GRINNED?!?! Awww...]
5.
a broad smile.
6.
the act of producing a broad smile.
7.
the act of withdrawing the lips and showing the teeth, as in anger or pain.

smirk [smurk] –verb (used without object)
1.
to smile in an affected, smug, or offensively familiar way.
–noun
2.
the facial expression of a person who smirks.

I smirk - because I'm not a toothy grinner... Belinda - guess I'll need more White Strips!!

The little boy grinned...and-here-the nasty man smirked. How disappointed am I to finally see in writing the difference? Quelle drag!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pickle You, Kumquat!

You know...I smirk or grin every time this commercial comes on...



It's clever, original - and while I like most of the "clean mouth" series - this one really is my favorite. And - when my friend Russell called to discuss it - I knew I wasn't alone.

I suppose my childhood fixation with malapropisms is to blame.

This commercial owes much to Norm Crosby - the undisputed KING of all malaprops! His hilarious mispoken dialogue has tickled me since my youth...















Norm Crosby advises: "Speak from your diagram."

So...enjoy your "decapitated" coffee and smile when you see this ad!

Like the cute blond says: "Fabulous!"

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

My uniquely American day - for better and worse [shame on Fulton County]

Well...








It was a day of highs and lows. I am proud to say I voted in the Georgia primary. I wore my Georgia peach sticker with pride. It was a simple, efficient and even pleasant process. Digital, quick and easy.

The same cannot be said for acquiring a Georgia tag for my car. What a convoluted, unpleasant and inappropriately expensive process!

Today marked my second appearance in the lovely Fulton County Government Center (I mean that - it's a neat building). However, the DMV, well, that's a different story. Government employees who are doomed to enforce unreasonable and inefficient policies and procedures, it seems, are destined to be slow and some are drunk with the little power they lord over those of us to who pay their salaries.

Thank you Mr. Purple Shirt for snagging me and making me feel foolish for proceeding to the line I was told to go to the first time I showed up in the room that smells like really dirty laundry. Thank you Ma'am (though I don't hold you responsible per se) for having to get supervisor approval to accept the Tennessee document that your colleague told me I had to get the first time I was there.

CAN someone explain how/why it is reasonable for me to pay 2007 Fulton County tax on a vehicle that was registered in Tennessee through 12/31/07?!?! AND - then to have to pay it again in August of 2008?!?! I understand the renewal-on-birthday system - though it seems inefficient and like a deliberate mechanism for generating undeserved tax revenue from new residents. Since this is the first state (or is it county?!?) I've lived in with a vehicle tax - it makes little sense to me that it wouldn't be prorated for the amount of time I've lived here or from my previous tag's expiration date. And - to the REALLY BITCHY supervisor who barked rude, incomplete answers to my queries - it's about karma lady!!! SO... tax that!!

Many things can be said about Hamilton County and Tennessee - to be sure. However, licensing vehicles in the state of Tennessee is less expensive and less difficult. That - I miss.

SO - from rip offs, red tape and bureaucracy to the process of electing new bureaucrats - I was all over it today. NOW - when do we choose the Fulton County Tax Commissioner?!?!?!?!?!


What I would've said...

To the mid-level managebot at the Fulton County Tax Commissioners office...

"I hope you get some satisfaction from snapping your rude, incomplete responses to the people who pay your salary because one day - you will be on the side of the glass wall that smells like dirty laundry and will be the recipient of less than helpful information delivered unprofessionally."

There. I feel better.

Stay tuned...


Sunday, February 3, 2008

Miscellaneous Miscellanea... catching up

The holidays have come and gone... my cold is almost gone and it's almost black Thursday [Valentine's Day]...

Since last I wrote I've been to L.A. once and Las Vegas twice.

Merry Christmas Mr & Mrs...












Aren't they swell? It was a great 11 days! Our longest Christmas visit ever [and no one got hurt]! There's more to Vegas than the Strip - ya' know?! This desert city is closing in on 2 million residents and really has a lot to offer. In fact - what's neat is winter there is much like winter here in Atlanta.



Hank's at Green Valley Ranch Resort

Highlights of this holiday included great meals [Hank's at Green Valley Ranch; Twin Creeks at Silverton - which is a stunning new room and exquisite menu; Eiffel Tower at Paris - though I had some service issues with reservations and the request of a table; In-N-Out!; Fresh & Easy...] and a really fun show at the Gold Coast - Marie Osmond's Holiday Christmas Spectacular! Say what you will - but the Mormon can sing! And - she has a great sense of humor and gave a lively, festive holiday evening to all in attendance. I think we got a special dose as it was her last show of the run.

Played some slots...shopped the new Las Vegas Town Square (not unlike the Grove in L.A. or a smaller version of Atlantic Station)...back to the ATL...



Russell and I being silly with fab photog Jill Ball


What's really great is my pal Russell then came for a visit and we TORE up the deep down dirty South... and discovered what has to be one of the most exciting new restaurants I've been to in years! I don't make that comment lightly - if you know me - you know! JCT Kitchen was a real surprise. It has gotten good notice here in Atlanta - but - dinner with Russell was amazing. The room is a light, serene, stylish contemporary take on Southern...as is the food. The service [our amazing server Jameson] was outstanding. The food was too. I can't say enough about this and am most anxious to try the great-sounding bar nibblies. Even their website rocks! One stand-out amongst all the great food was the crisp, simple salad of fresh green beans, romaine lettuce, spiced pecans, slivered apples and light, cold buttermilk dressing. YOWSA! LOVED IT! It's just not often anymore that a menu actually gets me going. This one does. And - it's next to a really cool, preppy men's store. Check out neighboring Sid Mashburn if you need to window shop and walk after dinner.

I was also in Vegas for my beloved mother's 70th birthday. More on that to come. SO glad I could be a part of it. So much percolating right now I'll follow up with more news soon...

OH - and - if you live in a state with a primary/caucus/thingy this Tuesday - VOTE!