Wednesday, August 31, 2011

From the wacky world of marketing

- A friend, who knows my fascination with the convenience store chain Kum & Go, and their brand name, sent me a photo of a woman actually wearing a Kum & Go t-shirt. Now, I'm no expert on female fashion but the thought of a woman wearing a shirt with those words makes me wonder the impression she's trying to leave with those who see her.

- The Center for Science in the Public Interest (really--who knew there was such a group) has started a campaign, "Life's Sweeter with Fewer Sugary Drinks." One, that campaign title doesn't just roll off of the tongue and, two, the group has no money for a campaign. They do have a I have to believe that site traffic will be off the charts, don't you?

- Those fun folks at ABC are using the following approach in promoting the upcoming season of Dancing With the Stars. Their pitch seems to be "look at all the provocative, crazy characters we have on this season's show!" The question is, "will America tune in to watch the opinionated Nancy Grace, goofball David Arquette, talk show host Ricki Lake, celebrity brother Rob Kardashian, gender switching Chaz Bono and former NBA provocateur Ron Artest (who is working to change his name to Metta World Peace?)" Given that DWTS' target demo skews older, I think this lineup is a big risk.

- Here's a tasty quote from musician and noted womanizer, John Mayer, "Anybody who tells you to have a fallback plan are people who have had a fallback plan, didn't follow their dreams, and don't want you to either." Interesting insight from the guy who once called Jessica Simpson, "sexual napalm."

- And, finally, the marketing gimmick of the week goes to Beyonce. The multi-talented singer and actress performed on the MTV Video Music Awards, then revealed that she is pregnant. Since that announcement, sales for Beyonce's latest album, 4, have risen appreciably. The album had been underperforming, compared to prior releases, prior to the appearance.

Friday, August 26, 2011


- Those of you who are fans of Good Morning America and their Friday concert series may not have noticed the guitarist sporting the long, frizzy hair to the left of Stevie Nicks. Waddy Wachtel has worked with Nicks and fellow Fleetwood Mac bandmate Lindsey Buckingham, and is a noted session guitarist. Wachtel has backed a who's who of rock-and-roll artists including Jackson Browne, Don Henley, Warren Zevon and Linda Ronstadt.

- Speaking of Nicks, the rock diva still has "it." What a unique voice...

- TV recommendation: If you haven't watched Picker Sisters on Lifetime, you need to check it out. It does American Pickers one better by turning the procured junk into furniture and other household items.

- App recommendation: Check out EW's Must List, an iPad app which provides not only hot topics from those who bring you Entertainment Weekly, but also recommendations on books, movies and more.

- In the category of "you'd think people would learn" comes the following. Seasons 52, a new restaurant coming to the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, MO, is tearing down its modern facade after negative consumer reaction, primarily via social media, which included boycott threats. Consumers in Kansas City are passionate about the look and feel of the Plaza and its Spanish-style architecture and have united to stop not only this inconsistent design but other recent threats to the Plaza vibe.

- Charlie Sheen has purchased a home in his neighborhood for former wife Denise Richards. He apparently is also looking to purchase a third home in the same area for Brooke Mueller, another former wife. The supposed rationale is to have his children close by. We can only stand back and watch this train wreck play out.

- Keith Richards memoir, Life, has now sold over a million copies. The book is one of the best-selling rock memoirs ever and has been positively reviewed since its release last year. If you are a Rolling Stones/Richards fan, it's a must read.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Steve Jobs

Every media outlet in the country is reporting today on yesterday's announcement from Apple that Steve Jobs is resigning as the company's CEO.

The best line I've read comes, not surprisingly, from Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal. Mossberg has long been an Apple fan and wrote this about Jobs' impact:

CEOs resign every day, so why is this one so meaningful?

Most people are lucky if they can change the world in one important way, but Mr. Jobs, in multiple stages of his business career, changed global technology and media in multiple ways on multiple occasions. And that changed the way people live.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saturday morning coffee

- As if print media wasn't in enough trouble we now hear this from Hilton Hotels. A California man is suing the hotel chain over USA Today. It seems that the hotel charged the guest 75 cents for the copy of USA Today left outside his hotel door. The guest accuses Hilton of contributing to an "offensive waste of precious resources" and "deforestation" by distributing unwanted newspapers.

- In the category of "not the brightest bulb in the closet," Victor Burgos, a fugitive in New York, taunted police on his Facebook page, posting "catch me if you can." Law enforcement officials tracked Burgos to an apartment in Brooklyn, where they found him sitting at his computer with his Facebook page open. Maybe Victor should check those privacy settings.

- According to the London Daily Mail, the average British tourist gains eight pounds during a two-week trip to the U.S., a byproduct of big meal portions and all-you-can-eat buffets. Did the newspaper ask tourists to weigh in both coming and going?

- The cast of Modern Family wrapped up shooting of episode one this week at Lost Creek Ranch in Moose, WY. The cast and crew followed our stay there with a week spent readying the story line of a family trip to a dude ranch. Should be fun--the opening episode of this season will air in mid-September.

- It didn't take George Clooney long to rebound from his breakup with Italian model Elisabetta Canalis. The 50 year-old actor is now squiring WWE wrestler Stacy Keibler--yes, the same Stacy Keibler who appeared on the second season of Dancing With the Stars.

- Happy Birthday to Robert Plant. The former lead singer of Led Zeppelin and most recently recognized for his duo work with Allison Krauss, turns 63 today.

- And finally, Katy Perry now has five songs from one album, "Billboard," which have cracked Billboard's Top 100 chart. The only other artist to do that is Michael Jackson with his album "Bad."

Friday, August 19, 2011


- Happy Birthday to one of my favorite country singers--Lee Ann Womack turns 45 today.

- The average Facebook user is connected to 60 pages, groups and events.

- Our quote of the day comes from the great Mark Twain, who once said, "The difference between the almost right word and the right word is the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning."

- Sign of the apocalypse: Security for the Kim Kardashian-Kris Humphries nuptials this weekend are incredibly tight because the Kardashians "don't want the footage to leak out before their special airs on TV." (Source: TMZ)

- And, in case you missed it, Ms. Kardashian was the celebrity judge on last night's Project Runway.

- Kansas City peeps: As reported here a couple of weeks ago, Oklahoma Joe's is, indeed, planning to open a new restaurant at 119th and Roe in the space vacated by TGIFriday's. The barbecue dudes at Okie Joe's are in final negotiations for the space and could be open by late winter.

- Danica Patrick--she of the commercials--will soon announce that she'll race a full-time schedule in NASCAR in 2012. Patrick plans to drive the entire Nationwide Series schedule and select NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.

- Finally, Burt Reynolds is facing foreclosure on his Jupiter, FL home. The suit, filed by Merrill Lynch Credit Corp., claims that Reynolds hasn't made a mortgage payment since September 1, 2010.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Reflections on the Great American Roadtrip

The Great American Roadtrip is over--2,661 total miles, seven states visited, and a host of memories.

Hitting the open road was enlightening. The trip opened my eyes to the wonders of the great West and, in particular, the state of Wyoming--a state of 580,000 people and stunning geological and wildlife eye candy. Seeing wonders like The Badlands and the Grand Tetons even verged on being a religious experience, it was that impactful.

- There is a freedom to traveling by car which I had forgotten--no security lines to pass through, no limitation on the number of bags, no rental car counters to navigate, and no time schedules to meet. It was exhilarating to simply get in the car and go.

- It was amazing to me how many people reacted with "You drove here!?" when asked how we arrived in Jackson, WY. Yes, we drove, and along the way discovered the joy of seeing all there is to see.

- Hundreds of bugs gave up their lives to make our roadtrip a success. We squashed many a buggy creature on our way through Missouri-Nebraska-Iowa-South Dakota-Wyoming-Colorado-Kansas.

- There still are small towns with places to eat which simply are marked with a sign which says "Cafe."

- That bike rally event in Sturgis, SD is quite the deal. And, I saw plenty of biker chicks who scared me.

- I felt like I was in the middle of a Western for most of our trip. We passed through territory where films like Dances With Wolves and Shane were filmed.

- You can't do Yellowstone National Park in a day. The park is the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined, and there is simply too much to see in an area with a 45 MPH speed limit.

- Finally, if you ever are concerned about the lack of wide open space, simply head west to South Dakota, Wyoming, eastern Colorado and western Kansas. It's there, and it's refreshing to see.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

M,N & Q: On vacation

You'll have to excuse me, loyal readers, but I'm having such a good time on vacation that I won't be posting anything here until the week of August 15. Please check back in then.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Day Three: The great American roadtrip

On day three, we set out from Sheridan, WY for Yellowstone National Park. Little did we know that the drive from Sheridan to Cody would be the highlight of our trip thus far.

- The ascent into Bighorn National Forest, between Sheridan and Cody, offered the most stunning, panoramic vista I've ever seen. My photos don't do the magnitude of the sight justice.

- The Cody High School teams are nicknamed the Broncs and Fillies.

- I'm glad that I got to experience Yellowstone National Park. However, for those contemplating a trip, make sure you allow adequate time as the park is huge and the speed limit only as high as 45 given the winding roads.

- Yes, wildlife are prevalent in the park--we spotted a small cub making its way down to a lake, and also got to witness a buffalo making what would become a buffalo chip.

- Old Faithful blows every 90 minutes or so. We were about three minutes late but got to witness the tail end of the show. Again, word to the wise--this national treasure was surrounded by people waiting for the eruption. If you're expecting an intimate encounter with Old Faithful, think again as this is the most popular attraction in Yellowstone.

- The Grand Tetons are unlike any mountain range I've seen in the U.S. Jagged, spectacular peaks.

- The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar in Jackson Hole had about a million bikers in it last night.

- Hotel recommendation: The Wyoming Inn, Jackson Hole.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Day two: The great American roadtrip

- Is there a worse business name in America than Kum & Go? Seriously, if so, what is it?

- As we've traveled through town after town, it's interesting to see the small town stadiums which, just a few weeks from now, will be filled with those watching the "boys of fall"--Vikings, Cowboys, Cardinals and Bulldogs, to name a few.

- There are literally thousands of bikers in the Black Hills area of South Dakota for the Sturgis Motorcyle Rally. This year's events include midget bowling, the Miss Buffalo Chip beauty pageant and hula girls in bikinis, plus concert acts like Toby Keith, Edgar Winter, Lynryd Skynryd, Def Leppard and Poison. Obviously, rally organizers understand their target audience.

- The Crazy Horse Memorial will be spectacular when it's finished. The issue is that the project, started in 1948, currently only has a head which is discernible. Korczak Ziolkowski's tribute to Native Americans receives no federal funding and is fully reliant upon private support.

- The carving of Mt. Rushmore occurred from 1927-1941, using 400 workers and costing $989,992.32.

- It's hard to picture the climactic scene in North by Northwest, which took place at the top of Rushmore, when looking at the memorial in real life. It's easy to see Dances With Wolves, filmed around Rapid City and the Black Hills, as one travels west on I-90.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Day one: The great American roadtrip

700 miles, road construction scattered throughout four states, dodging the floodwaters of the Missouri River, and driving in-and-out of Harley riders on their way to Sturgis--day one of the great American roadtrip vacation is in the books.

- The first road construction was encountered 17 miles from home. It became a pattern as I'm still daydreaming about orange cones and barrels.

- Spending time on Highway 59 through Iowa was nostalgic as that was the route my family took "back in the day" on our summer vacations to Minnesota. My reaction now is "wow--we really did that!?" The two lane highway was filled with truckers, forced to this route given flooding on I-29.

- Weirdest vehicle of the day: A van with Texas plates and a Philadelphia Eagles spare tire cover.

- North of Tarkio, MO is a wind farm with dozens of structures--modern-day windmills.

- The flooding on I-29 is the real deal. A McDonald's on I-29, just north of Omaha, had thousands of sandbags around the structure, still braced for the raging waters.

- Hundreds of signs along I-90 in South Dakota advertise all of the virtues of Wall Drug. Save your time--the tourist trap serves overpriced, low quality food, and the 40,000 square feet of the store is filled with every manner of kitschy tourist crap available.

- The Badlands are stunning!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

We're hittin' the road!

Some of my fondest childhood memories were our family vacations. Dad would pack up the car the night before and we'd head off to the same spot every year--a lake in northern Minnesota. Our General Motors product would be stuffed with fishing gear, clothes, towels, linens and food and we'd travel north, on two-lane highways, taking in the Iowa and Minnesota countryside while passing through small towns--Shenandoah, Clarinda, Harlan, Montevideo, Menagha and on to our destination. Perhaps a night would be passed in a motel and usually lunch was consumed at a joint marked "Cafe."

That great American roadtrip will be re-created tomorrow as my wife and I head off to Jackson Hole by way of the Badlands in South Dakota, and Devil's Tower and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. And, Musings, Notes & Quotes will be along for the ride.

Check back in with us here as I document observations about the new millenium's version of a road trip versus what I experienced in the 1960's and 1970's. It'll be fun...