Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Checking back in after the hiatus

Hello, dear readers of MNQ...sorry for the too long hiatus from my blogging responsibilities. Let's catch up a bit, shall we?

- SPOILER ALERT: Viewers of The Killing didn't take kindly to the lack-of-closure with the recent season finale. AMC'S acclaimed drama ended season one with a cliffhanger ending after tempting viewers that the final episode would wrap together the "whodunit." Charlie Collier, president of AMC Networks, said, "If I could do anything differently, it would be to manage expectations."

- Rolling Stone magazine issued yet another "greatest" special edition--this one for "The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time." Not surprisingly, The Beatles were voted number one by the all-star voting panel followed by Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry. The list is heavily made up of classic rockers and iconic R&B and blues legends, with a few more recent rock and rap/hip-hop acts thrown in. Notable artists were U2, who was voted #22, Nirvana #30, Public Enemy at #44, Metallica at #61, Eminem at #83 and R.E.M. at #97. Others in the top ten were Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Little Richard, Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles.

- Now, this is eco-friendly, huh!? The Toronto Zoo sent 3,000 tons of feces from rhinoceroses, giraffes, bison and other animals to a new biogas plant. The power plant converts the animal waste into heat, fertilizer and electricity. Who knew that poop had such power?

- During the same week that same-sex marriage was being ratified in New York, an overzealous security guard at a Minnesota Twins game chastised a lesbian couple. The guard, after the couple had a quick kiss, told them not to do that, saying "Here in the stadium, we adhere to the Ten Commandments." The Twins have since reprimanded the security guard.

- Many of Los Angeles' and Hollywood's power elite like to golf. And, the clubs they call "home" come with a pretty steep price. The Hollywood Reporter provided the following information on fees, and notable members, at these elite L.A. country clubs: Riviera Country Club, $250,000 initiation fee, members include Mark Wahlberg, Adam Sandler, Dennis Quaid and Ari Emanuel (the inspiriation for Jeremy Piven's Ari Gold character in Entourage); Bel-Air Country Club, $150,000 initiation fee, members include Jack Nicholson, Quaid, Luke Wilson and Tom Cruise; Lakeside Country Club, initiation fee of $80,000, members include Nicholson, George Lopez and Justin Timberlake; Brentwood Country Club, initiation fee of $180,000, members include Joe Roth and Ron Weiner (30 Rock); El Caballero Country Club, initiation fee of $45,000, with members like Kevin James, Ray Romano and Irving Azoff.

- Esquire magazine published their annual list of the "best bars in America." And, as usual, the local region had little representation on the list. Bars from this area which made the cut were Replay Lounge, Lawrence, KS; and R Bar, Kansas City, MO.

- Independence Day weekend is almost upon us. So, here goes with your stain removal guide for barbecue sauce, which will flow abundantly this holiday: Rinse with cold water, then sponge the stain with white vinegar. Rinse, apply detergent to the stain, and let sit for 10 minutes before rinsing again. Repeat. There now--you can't get that kind of personal care advice just anywhere, can you?

- 53% of Americans say "sexting"--exchanging sexual communications over the Internet or via cell phones--while in a relationship is cheating; 17% say it isn't; and 30% say "it depends." Depends on what, you third of those surveyed? (Source: The Economist)

- And, finally, speaking of sexting, here's a record to be proud of--during his 14 years as a congressman, Anthony Weiner sponsored 191 bills. Not one of them passed.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


My father will turn 80 in December. The man who coached me, taught me, scolded me, read to me, supported me and worked to support me is now grayed, stooped, slowed and living in a place where others cut the grass, weed the flower beds and shovel the snow in the winter. A body which used to pitch batting practice, prune trees, shoot baskets, throw passes, build houses, bait hooks, repair plumbing and harvest a garden now sits.

My father was a vibrant part of my life. He sacrificed in order that I might have. He coached on nights when I now know he would've liked to have sat. Yet, my father never sat back--he was involved in my life at all levels, whether coaching, becoming a leader of the PTA, leading the church youth group, or taking Mom and me on trips in the summer.

Today, on this day when we honor our fathers, I say "thank you" to mine. It took becoming a father to appreciate all that my Dad did for me. And, even though he now sits, I still see that active man who made a huge difference in my life and, I now know, a difference in the lives of others touched along the way.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.

Father's Day

- listed out the best father-son combinations in the history of college football. Not surprisingly, the Manning family took first place--father Archie (Mississippi) and sons Peyton (Tennessee) and Eli (Mississippi.)

- In a survey of over 700 parents of kids 12 and under, Ipsos found that fathers are spending 50% or more time than mothers with their children online, playing video games and going to movies, live theater and sporting events. Whereas Mom is the one noted as more often handling the cleaning and cooking duties, Dad is making time to largely do the fun stuff.

- In the celebrity Dad category, here's some insight into what those crazy Kardashian gals are planning to get their dad, Bruce Jenner, for Father's Day. "Kourtney, Kim and I--we're gonna, because he got his ears pierced, maybe go in on a pair of diamond studs," Khloe Kardashian said. "We need to jazz him up a bit." Who knew that when Jenner won Olympic Gold and appeared on a Wheaties cereal box that he'd eventually end up as Daddy to these three.

- The Christian Science Monitor writes that fathers are more active as parents than their male counterparts of a generation ago, but more kids than ever are growing up without a father even living in their home. According to researchers, the institution of marriage is more accepted by those with college degrees and higher incomes compared to working-class families with lower levels of education. On the high end of the demographic, fathers are more engaged, as noted in the Ipsos research cited above. On the lower end, fathers more often are absent. The Pew Research Center, this past week, released the data under the heading "A Tale of Two Fathers." The sobering data point is that more than one-in-four fathers with children under age 18 live apart from their kids.

- What are the top five cities for Dads? Newsweek/The Daily Beast compiled the list based upon fathers-per-capita, educational quality, quality time with kids, cardiologists (heart disease is the number one killer of men, 25-54) and Father's Day fun (e.g., number of golf courses, number of sports bars, etc.) Here is the list: #5 - Tampa, FL; #4 - Orlando, FL; #3 - Gilbert, AZ (a suburb of Phoenix); #2 - Scottsdale, AZ: and #1 - Irvine, CA.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Musings on the work week

- Do you notice that Friday is becoming the new Monday? Not only are Mondays still Mondays, but on Friday, everyone seems to get into a panic because the work week is officially ending. Boxes on "to do" lists need to get checked, work needs to be moved off one's back to someone else's, decisions have to be made...and on and on.

- Why is it that when you wear a tie to work the two inevitable questions are either "who died?" or "how'd the interview go?"

- Does anyone call an office phone number anymore?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Candy's place

Los Angeles--a city known for excess and gaudiness--is about to close a chapter in its real estate history which is without precedent.

"The Manor," the five-acre estate of the late Aaron Spelling, has reportedly been sold for a price of roughly $150 million. Spelling's former abode is in the Holmby Hills area of L.A. and measures in at 57,000 square feet--roughly the equivalent of 15 Overland Park, Kansas residences placed side-by-side. The home sits on five acres and features a bowling alley, beauty salon, and space to park 100 cars.

The buyer is Petra Ecclestone, heiress to the Ecclestone Formula One car racing fortune of her father, Bernie Ecclestone. Ecclestone will split time between Los Angeles and London after her upcoming August wedding to entrepreneur James Stunt. (By the way, Ecclestone's London accomodations are valued at $91 million, meaning her two residences are valued somewhere in the vicinity of $240 million!)

Spelling made his fortune by developing successful TV shows like Charlie's Angels, Dynasty, Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place and The Mod Squad. The seller is his wife, Candy Spelling.

The Spellings bought the property in the early 1980s and tore down the existing home on the land in order to build this French chateau-style estate. The double staircase entryway was inspired by Gone With the Wind and, in addition to the aforementioned rooms, the home has a china room, a library, a flower-cutting room (who knew you needed an entire room for that), and a suite named after Prince Charles. (Yes, he once was a guest of Spelling's.) In sum, the sale will be the largest real estate transaction for a single-family home in U.S. history.

Don't fret for Mrs. Spelling though--she says that she's "downsizing" to a condominium in the Century City neighborhood of Los Angeles. Her smaller place is a mere 15,555 square feet worth $35 million.

(Source: Wall Street Journal)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday morning coffee

- USA Today compiled its list of Emmy nominations, now that the official television season is over, and the Best Drama lineup is a hard one to call. USAT's nominees are The Killing (AMC), Mad Men (AMC), True Blood (HBO), Justified (FX), The Good Wife (CBS) and Boardwalk Empire (HBO.) My wish would be this list but with Friday Night Lights (NBC) replacing True Blood.

- The finale of Army Wives (Lifetime) is tonight. And, while there is some horrid acting on this show, the story lines about life in the military are really first-rate.

- Apple has blinked. According to Friday's Wall Street Journal, Apple has relaxed its guidelines for digital content sales through its App Store. The changes will give magazine, newspaper and video publishers more freedom over how they price and sell their content to owners of Apple's devices. Google has been much more aggressive, with attractive terms, in wooing publishers for its Android app store.

- Ford plans to pump new life into its Lincoln luxury brand. Later this year, the car company plans to give Lincoln a new identity by highlighting its production of high-tech luxury vehicles.

- Both ABC and NBC will try to emulate the success of Mad Men by debuting period shows this fall. Pan Am will appear on ABC and NBC will have the Playboy Club, both shows set in the 1960's. I can see the Playboy Club possibly making it but wonder about Pan Am--how many potential viewers even remember that airline and brand which went away in 1991?

- One of my favorite blues guitarists, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, turns 34 today.

- Here's another proof point about the shifting tide of manliness--television network executives are saying that they heard more pitches, this year, than ever before about the changing dynamics of men. The recently announced fall lineup will include shows like Man Up, about three men "who struggle with what it means to be a real man in a world of Axe ads;" Free Agents, with Hank Azaria in the role of a divorced office worker; and Work It, about two guys laid off in a car dealership who must dress like women to get a job selling pharmaceuticals.

Friday, June 10, 2011


- Heard recently from a respected media source: Approximately one in 10 new television shows makes it into season three or four, which is the longevity needed to take a show into syndication which is where profitability truly happens.

- The most creative person in business, according to Fast Company magazine? It's Wadah Khanfar, the mastermind behind Al Jazeera. Others in the top ten are: Scott Forstall, Apple; Yuri Milner, Digital Sky Technologies; Jack Dorsey, Twitter; Sebastian Thrun, Google; Guo Pei, Rose Studio; Sal Khan, Khan Academy; Conan O'Brien; Jim Yong Kim, Dartmouth; and Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post Media Group.

- Who knew that there was a demand for bedbug-sniffing dogs? Apparently there is so much interest in these canines who can sniff out the dreaded bedbugs that concern is building as to which dogs truly can sniff out the pests. The National Pest Management Association, beginning this month, will offer certification and training for dogs and handlers.

- So far this year, tornadoes have killed 504 people, the highest such death toll in the U.S. since 1953.

- And, our quote of the week goes to Courtney Love, wife of the late Kurt Cobain of Nirvana. Said Love, who has dated a varied lineup of men since Cobain's death in 1994, "I'm only interested in plutocrats--the really,really rich guys. I think I can be a real asset to a wealthy man." Hey, at least she's honest, huh?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Idle chatter

- Yesterday was the 67th anniversary of D-Day--arguably the most important battle in our country's history. Yet, no Saving Private Ryan, no The Longest Day, no special on The History Channel. What gives?

- Like a fly drawn to the light, I turned on The Bachelorette last night and watched for a bit. The boys had to appear at a comedy club and roast not only each other, but this season's bachelorette--ultra-perky Ashley. (Has there ever been a bachelorette on this ABC show who couldn't be described as "perky?") Wow...painful stuff.

- Quote of the day: Reese Witherspoon, accepting the Generation Award at the MTV Movie Awards, said, "I get it girls, that it's cool to be a bad girl. But, it is possible to make it in Hollywood without doing a reality show. When I came up in this business, if you made a sex tape, you were embarrassed and you hid it under your bed."

- Katie Couric's move to ABC has several implications. One, the demise of the afternoon soap opera will continue as ABC noted that it would give away General Hospital's 3 p.m. ET time slot to make room for Couric's new afternoon show. Two, Couric mentioned that she'd be happy to make appearances on Good Morning America which could be code for "I'll appear even more frequently on GMA, if you'd like." The network obviously hopes that Couric can take up the syndicated show slack left behind by the ending of Oprah.

- Country star Ronnie Dunn has released his first album since the demise of Brooks & Dunn, the power duo which topped the C&W charts for 20 years. Today's New York Times review of the album said it was "one of the year's most impressive country releases and a showcase for sounds and moods that rarely felt at home in Brooks & Dunn."

- It was a busy weekend here in K.C. town. The NASCAR boys were in for the truck race on Saturday and the Sprint Cup Series event on Sunday; it was First Fridays down in the Crossroads District and Jazzoo out at the Kansas City Zoo; the Prairie Village Art Fair took place and summertime crowds sweltered out at Kauffman Stadium to see the Royals and Twins.

- So, let me see if I have this straight--Representative Anthony Weiner of New York sent lewd photographs of himself, via Twitter, and didn't think he'd get caught!? People, people, people...if you post/text/send/tweet something, there is no magic eraser to make it go away.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday morning coffee

- If you need a summer TV show for viewing, it's not too late to catch up on The Killing. Available on AMC On-Demand, the show traces the murder investigation of a Seattle teenager, Rosie Larsen over the course of 13 days (episodes.) The show airs on Sunday nights on AMC and will conclude on June 19.

- Mark Wahlberg turns 40 today. The former rapper, who claims to have had "20-25" run-ins with Boston Police during his younger days, has done quite well for himself as an accomplished actor and producer of film and television.

- The Starlight Theatre season opens this week with The King and I. Lou Diamond Phillips (La Bamba) plays the role of the King of Siam--quite the way for Kansas City's best outdoor venue to kick off another stellar lineup of musicals. This summer, the theatre will also feature 9 to 5, Cinderella, Mamma Mia, Guys & Dolls and Xanadu.

- Talk about grouchy--a wealthy lumber baron, Wellington Burt, died in 1919 but did not allow his $110 million fortune to be split among his heirs until 21 years after the death of his last grandchild. You see, Burt hated his immediate relatives, thus he placed the restriction on his inheritance.

- In perhaps a bit of life imitating art, January Jones (who plays ice queen Betty Draper on AMC's Mad Men) has revealed that she's pregnant--but she's keeping the identity of the father secret. One rumor is that Jones and director Matthew Vaughn became quite close on the set of the upcoming X-Men film. (Vaughn is married to model Claudia Schiffer.) Jones also dated Saturday Night Live--and Kansas City and University of Kansas alum--Jason Sudeikis last year. Much like her character on Mad Men, Jones is being very secretive.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A bad month for car sales

Which car brand's sales improved the most in May? Honda? No. Toyota? Nope. GM? Wrong again.

The answer is Hyundai--yes, Hyundai, that Korean auto manufacturer which now ranks fifth in total U.S. sales behind Toyota.

In a report in today's Wall Street Journal, Hyundai (20.7%) and Chrysler (10.1%) are the only two auto brands which reported increases from year-ago-this-month levels. Ford was close to flat, at -0.3%, followed by GM (-1%), Nissan (-9.1%), Honda (-22.5%) and Toyota (-33.4%.)

I think one would have to credit the inspired advertising of Chrysler, launched with a Super Bowl blitz in February, for that brand's improvement. And, Hyundai's marketing efforts have been on a roll since they offered the you-lose-your-job-we'll-buy-back-your-car guarantee of early 2009.

Honda's and Toyota's troubles can be traced to lack of inventory which is a direct result of the March earthquake in Japan.

Interestingly, while sales are down, the total transaction price for an average vehicle rose to $29,817, the highest level ever recorded. (Source: