Saturday, March 30, 2013

The best shows for dudes

A well-known sports columnist, who used to reside in Kansas City, tweeted out his top ten list of all-time favorite TV shows.  His list inspired me to think about which shows are the best for guys, in a television environment where programming focused on men is limited given the impact that sports has against this crowd.

Here's my top 10 list:

1.  Sons of Anarchy.  Are there better shows on TV?  For sure--but no show is as consistently violent as this one, yet based in complex male-male and mother-son relationships that have been termed "Shakespearean."

2.  Justified.  This FX drama is better than its cable brother in the number one spot but is a little less of a pure dude drama given the female appeal of Timothy Olyphant (U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens.)

3.  Mad Men.  What guy doesn't, at some level, want to be Don Draper?

4.  Homeland.  Yeah, I know, there is the complicated relationship between Nicholas Brody and Carrie Matthison but what is more masculine than the CIA trying to find then capture or kill terrorists?

5.  The Sopranos.  You can't keep what may have been the best serial drama ever off of this list, can you?

6.  Game of Thrones.  Season three of this award-winning drama begins tomorrow night--it's the darkest show on television.

7.  24.  Jack Bauer...need I say more?

8.  The Wire.  Gritty, raw, authentic, profane--an unbelievable show.

9.  Southland.  This TNT police drama, set in Los Angeles, is one of the best shows no one knows.

10.  Entourage.  Don't forget, this show was appointment viewing among young males when it was on the air.

Yes, there are shows who deserve to be on this list, e.g., Breaking Bad, but aren't here simply because I haven't seen enough to grade them versus these 10.

There you have it--the ten best recent shows for away!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A primer for hoops fans coming to K.C.

Once again, Kansas City is the center, or at least in the primary solar system, of college basketball this week as the second and third round of the NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament comes to Sprint Center on Friday and Sunday.  Kansas and Kansas State fans will dominate the crowds, given those two teams' games at Sprint Center, but we should expect decent numbers coming to the ol' Cowtown from Wisconsin, North Carolina, Mississippi and either Boise State or LaSalle.

Here is a visitor's primer for our out-of-town guests:

Barbecue:  How can one start any list for out-of-towners with a topic other than Kansas City barbecue? Don't look around downtown for the best 'cue in K.C.--head 1.5 miles east to the original Arthur Bryant's at 18th and Brooklyn.  If vinegary sauce isn't your thing, then your second best bet is to cab it to Oklahoma Joe's at 44th and Mission Road on the Kansas side, where you'll find a national treasure--the Z Man sandwich.  And, finally, another closer-in option is Danny Edward's Barbecue on Southwest Boulevard.  Listen up, Carolina fans--this list only scratches the surface of what real 'cue is about, as Kansas City has a long list of mouth-watering venues ready for barbecue sampling.

Bar:  The best bar in town is a short walk south from Sprint Center--Manifesto, a speakeasy-type establishment below the Rieger Hotel restaurant that, simply put, makes the best cocktails in town.

Beer:  Kansas City is home to one of the best craft beer makers in the U.S.--Boulevard Brewing.  If you get a chance, head to Boulevard for a tour and sampling of the Smokestack Series.

Burgers:  The options are plenty but, if you want to walk, then go to one of the downtown locations of Town Topic.  If it's good enough for Anthony Bourdain, it's good enough for you.

Dive:  Don't head to the P&L District in-between tournament sessions--go a block south from Sprint Center to The Cigar Box.  This dive offers up quality grub, cold beer and cocktails, all in an atmosphere that all but requires a flashlight.

Pizza:  The best pizza downtown is at Grinder's, another short walk from Sprint Center.  But, my advice is to skip the pizza and get Grinder's meatball grinder accompanied by a hearty order of Tater Tots.  Now, that's good eatin'!

Tex Mex:  Where to start?  Manny's, Ponak's and the small establishments along Southwest Boulevard are all quality stops but my advice is to cab it to Rudy's Taqueria on Westport Road for the best tacos in town.

Steak:  Red meat, you say?  Downtown offers The Majestic Steakhouse but my suggested best steak in town resides at The Capital Grille on the Country Club Plaza.  Yeah, I know it's a chain but it's still, in my opinion, the best meal in town.  And, the wine list is first rate.

Culture and History:  Oh, okay, if you need something to do on Saturday besides watching hoops at some sports bar establishment, then go to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in the same vicinity at Arthur Bryant's (see above.)  The Museum commemorates the forming of the Negro Leagues, which started in Kansas City, and honors the greats of the game, including Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and Kansas City's own Buck O'Neil.  If art is your thing, then check out the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, just east of the Plaza area of town, where the art inside is perhaps only overshadowed by the sculptures outside combined with the architectural magnificence of this museum.

Enjoy your time, visitors, in this city that has "more boulevards than Rome" and "more fountains than Paris."  And, do us a favor--let those Jayhawks and Wildcats move on to the Sweet 16, will ya?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Creative critics

I recently had a creative solution I was proposing to a client and heard the dreaded, "we need to take this in front of (insert some sort of nicer name for a committee.)"  I dropped my what I thought witty, "You know, a camel is a horse designed by a committee" and laughed, but only got a blank look in return, thus sealing my fate--I had to make a creative presentation to a conference room full of people.  It's every agency person's nightmare--the dreaded "let's gain a consensus" on something that, ultimately, is much more art than science.

There's a well-known cartoon in the ad biz by labeled "The 8 Types of Bad Creative Critics."  Take a look and pick out your favorite--haven't we all encountered one of these at some time or another?

The Blender:  "Can we just merge them all together?" when presented with various options.

The Hidden Agenda:  "It doesn't meet our objectives."  "What objectives?"  "You'll just have to guess."

The Micro-Manager:  "Change the font to Times New Roman."

The Waffler:  "Let's just go back to option 18D from the first round."

The Pet Peeved:  "I can't stand the color yellow."  "But, that's the brand color!"  "Then change it..."

The Wannabe:  "How about this instead?" (holding up a hand-drawn design on a cocktail napkin)

The Wet Blanket:  "It just sucks."  "Can you be more specific?"  "No."

The Crammer:  "Add this list of benefits" (displaying a toilet roll sized list of copy points)