Saturday, March 31, 2007

Ah, Marketing...

The Teletubbies invade London, Beatles-style? Brazilliant marketing, or milking a turnip? You make the call...

My (older) boys don't admit that they used to love the Tubbies. LOVE the Tubbies. I never loved them, believe me. But I did sit through the one VHS tape we own what seemed like a million times.

Fast forward to their baby sister, who LOVES the Tubbies. So much that I actually hid that one VHS tape. No more Tubbies! (And never these Tubbies.)

But on the 10 year anniversary, they're back, and unmasked! And selling Teletubbies headbands -- you choose your character, Tinky-Winky (revealed as a ballet dancer in real life -- so that pink purse is making sense*), Dipsy, La-La or Po -- with the profits going to autism reseach. Now can anyone tell me where to find them??? They were on the Today Show, for goodness sake...

*Addendum to the Anonymous poster who asked whether I was being homophobic here. No. But having spent 15 of my first 18 years in ballet, I can vouch for a fairly (cough cough) high percentage of male dancers being gay. I didn't mean to offend. Actually, if anything I thought it was genuinely hilarious given the whole Jerry Falwell stupidity. But I can see how you thought I was validating that somehow. Not at all. Shine on, TW!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Oh, Please...

I once saw this guy at LAX. It wasn't pretty then, and neither is this. I saw this and my eyes just naturally rolled heavenward.

I'm married to someone whose politics land slightly to the right of Jeb Bush. On election day we're called the "Cancel Each Other Out Couple." So if anyone might even marginally like Alec Baldwin, it might be me. But I don't.

Maybe it's the whole Kim Basinger, what-really-happened thing. Maybe it's his puffy, arrogant nature (and physique, but I digress). But I was really much happier thinking he was moving out of the country when (George W.) Bush was re-elected. And now he's away in London while this story breaks. Hmmmm.

Perhaps it all happened the way the journalist tells it. More importantly, a US soldier will get a supplement to her education. That's all good. We have yet to hear a statement from Mr. Baldwin.

Wait a minute, I do like this story.

And You Thought Conferences Were Dry...

... not so! A great speaker at my meeting today used this as part of his -- stay with me -- presentation on making seamless transitions in during the career life cycle of a doctor. Contrary to what you may be thinking, the presentation was great, but this got the most laughs.

(Editor's note: Alcohol references for adults -- sometimes funny. Alcohol references for kids -- never funny.)

Maybe the Bratz Dolls Can Sport Sobriety Bracelets, Too

... or, things that make me mental.

In a world where Lindsay and Britney are in and out of rehab (with breaks to shop at Robertson's, natch) -- who greenlights products like this? Do we not have enough of a problem with underage, and I mean pre-teenage, drinking that we have to egg them on with a product marketed just to them?

My husband and I were at the coffee shop recently and overheard a conversation with the barrista (high school senior) and a friend who'd come in to get some joe.

Barrista: Did you see so and so at the party last night?
Friend: No, they left pretty early.
Barrista: Did you stay over?

Stay over? When you were in high school, dear readers, was it an option to "stay over," at a coed party, alcohol or no alcohol? Come to think of it, were there any coed parties that (a) didn't serve alcohol or (b) were on the approved list of any sane parent?

I suppose we should be glad that our Barrista and her friend have the option to stay, rather than drive home after drinking. That's one answer, and clearly the agreement they have with their parents. I'd submit that, longer term, the old-fashioned, "Call me if you need a ride home" would provide an ounce more protection, if not from embarassment, for these girls, and would at least be consistent with a "Hey, we really don't think 'sleeping over' with a bunch of hormonal teenagers is a great idea" philosophy. But it still doesn't address the drinking part. Do these girls' parents accept that they're drinking? Is that just a given?

The other crazy factor here is how parents know anymore where their kids are calling from. I know several parents who, G-d bless them, are still fighting the good fight. Their kids have to call in from a land line. No cell phones. Because you could be, well, anywhere and checking in by cell.

I have a few years to sort this out before my son is out and about. And by then, I'll have a GPS chip implanted under the inside of his temple...

A Lesser-Known Vaccine Controversy

As a mother, I've anguished for years over various and at times hyperbolic arguments about vaccines. If you have children under 10, you know what they are -- vaccines cause autism, exposing your child to chicken pox is better than vaccinating, you shouldn't give a combination MMR, and most recently, how soon to have my daughter vaccinated with the HPV vaccine. (HPV has its own set of controversies, but I'll leave that to another time.)

I should point out that in the final analysis -- and nearly a decade apart -- all three of my children are fully up to date on all recommended vaccines. Our family's choice. That's not what this post is about.

What you may not be aware of is the real cost to pediatricians to accomplish their goal of having children vaccinated. Read this -- and advocate for your doctors. Insurance companies need to pay not just for the cost -- or a part of the cost -- of the vaccines, but also for the overhead and administration to inventory and give these immunizations.

This problem is reminiscent of the way insurance companies used to view mammograms. They'd be covered only if the woman was diagnosed with cancer. Huh? So we'd rather discourage early detection and instead pay for oncology treatment? There is a similar mindset at work here. Because most people have been immunized against diseases that have all but disappeared as a result, there's no red flag waving to say "Pay what you should!" And because it's the doctors, not the patients, in this case, receiving the brunt of the burden, the general public is largely unaware of the problem.

What's In... NOT!

To my handful of readers -- I apologize for my absence. The new J.O.B. and other commitments have seriously curtailed my blogging hobby! I have (literally) 20 minutes to myself in a nice hotel room, in a day with meetings from 7am-9pm. So what am I doing?

Checking email of course!

I'm sad to report that, after my last several loving posts about Daily Candy, a recommendation and review of this was waiting for me today.

Truly, do I need to say more?

Okay, I will. I have nothing against modesty. At the tender age of nearly 41, I embrace modesty whenever possible. But need we sacrifice that much style to wear a "modest" bathing suit? Have you ever seen anything so hilariously bad? I have to wonder who the founders of this company are. Much less the designers. Would you ever put a "culotted swimmer" on your design CV?

I know people who opt for the little skirted Lands' End models, which heretofore I've always considered to be the definition of "modest swimwear." I've always wondered if it was cellulite or lack of time to hit the waxing salon that motivates women to wear those.

Mark this down: Even if I am 80 years old and in who knows what kind of shape, I will not be covering my body with a scuba suit with a sundress-cum-culotte coverup and calling it a "bathing suit."

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Love Me Some Bacon

There are few things as purely wonderful as the smell of bacon cooking. Saveur Magazine (my husband's favorite periodical) has in the past done an entire recipe section just on bacon, including Billionaire's Bacon, that wonderful decadence that is bacon smothered in brown sugar. (Oh, how that channels my inner Homer Simpson -- and his happy, rotund belly.)

In the March 2007 issue, they feature on page 35 an artisanal bacon, ham and prosciutto maker, Benton's Smoky Mountain Country Hams (Madisonville, Tennessee). The picture isn't much to look at. Just a few strips of perfect bacon on a diner-style plate, with a larger stack on a plate in the background. But author Todd Coleman's description will make you want to go online right now and order your first package.

You'll have to wait in line. A note on their website laments:

***Attention to All Customers: Due to the recent article featuring our bacon in Saveur magazine, we have been absolutely overwhelmed with orders. We are a small, family-run business and producing high quality products is a process that cannot be rushed. We are working around the clock to fill all orders as quickly as we can, but some orders may be delayed as much as 5 weeks. We appreciate your business and hope you find our products worth waiting for! Thank you, Allan Benton***

I don't feel too bad pouring another cup into his overflowing PR bucket. Eventually he'll catch up to all those orders, mine being one in the queue. So I'll let you know if it lived up to expectations. We're taking Pancake Night to a new level...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Zeichen Press

I know I just (and I mean just) wrote this about my love affair with Daily Candy Chicago. Today I got the most faboo link to a company called Zeichen Press. I was so excited about it that I emailed them -- and they have graciously offered to let me link to them here, and post a picture some of their incredibly groovy products.

(Snaps to any company who has a real person respond that same morning, who quotes my email as having made her "coffee taste yummier." Somehow I know this woman is someone who appreciates a good cackle.)

Sisters-in-law Fran Shea and Jen Shea offer handmade cards, business, greeting and otherwise, all handprinted on vintage and antique letterpress equipment. The designs are clever, visually appealing, and to quote their own description, "occasionally sweet." If you're a graphics nut like me you will especially appreciate the "Projects" section.

"I'm dreaming of my next holiday card..."

Can you imagine any better way to showcase a coaster, sleeve a CD, or share a truly original and unique greeting card?

Sorry, Lake Country, no outlets here. But you can buy online through any of their distributors.

Monday, March 12, 2007

For My Fellow Sybills Out There...

I receive Daily Candy by email. Love it! (And the Chicago edition is written by a good friend's daughter, in the interest of full disclosure...) It lets me pretend that I actually live there and know all the great things that city has to offer. (Too bad Milwaukee hasn't made the grade yet...)

Anyway, today's edition included this, which is way too cool not to share.

Accessorize to your heart's content, for a relatively cheap price!!!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Bald Sad Scary Suffocation Man

I have a new job which allows me to work from home. The organization I work with provides a computer. They were generous enough to buy me a new laptop. (The process? That's another post.) Suffice to say that after numerous emails, telephone calls and a near aneurysm when on the phone with UPS, I finally drove to a nearby town and picked up the laptop on Thursday.

When I opened up the packaging, this was what the laptop was wrapped in:
I think Dell's graphic designer might have spent too much time watching the Scream movies. In a perverse way it reminds me of a Munch-ian version of the Romper Room lady's "Magic Mirror." Remember at the end of the show when she'd put the mirror in front of her face and do a shout-out to all the kids who were watching, with a trippy swirly design on the back of the mirror?
Anyway, you have to give props to a graphic that is this disturbing enveloping each of the million Dell laptops being shipped every day. There's a whole nation of Bald Sad Scary Suffocation Men!
Probably the most effective part of the graphic, though, is that it demonstrates clearly that the most efficient way to use the packaging to suffocate yourself is by cinching it firmly with your fist around the neckline. No random, accidental asphyxiation for this guy. He means business.