Iceberg... NOT the Lettuce

I have been rather fashion-heavy in my posts lately- blame in on the 2009 Men's Spring Collections on preview in Europe right now. But I could not pass this one up.

Remember this label:

It's the first (and I think only) line of menswear I have ever seen on the runway reviews where I think I would buy virtually all of the line. It just looks fantastic and wearable and, well... real.

Too often, these designers go for an exotic theme or a shock & awe or some unrealistic interpretation of what men (American men at least) would wear on a daily basis. I know, I know, the designer/fashion crowd is innately eccentric, so expect to see "ready-to-wear" clothing that might not be so "retail-ready" or mass-consumer-focused.

But OK, I
still want clothes I can look at that say, "YOU can wear this." Otherwise, I am not buying and not becoming brand loyal. If Paolo Gerani (creative director at Iceberg) can continue to put this "eminently wearable" (h/t: Josh Peskowitz) to bed every season, I'll be his biggest fan.


Now THIS would be cool.

With all the technology we have, I do not see why this is not as promising as it sounds. Oh, that's right, too many Detroit hands in Washington political pockets.


And Another Thing...

The Men's Spring 2009 Fashion Week is happening right now across Milan, Florence (Pitti Uomo), and Paris. I saw this black suit in the latest Calvin Klein Collection and thought to myself, "that is how to make a great looking basic suit today." The fit, the narrow (and peak!) lapel, the sheen. It's complete. I'd buy it, no question- something I cannot say often with these fashion show samples.

Then if you look closer- it is a far more forward-thinking suit than first glance will tell you.
Look at the material, it looks textured. If you follow the reviews of the collection, the designer (Italo Zucchelli) uses "cotton perforated like Airtex". Strange, given the shimmer of the clothing. What a great illusion. And a great look.

Sean Avery Gets It

As a hockey fan and ongoing participant (played the game since I was 5), I am not sure I expected this from Sean Avery. But knowing his visage is always in a photo or two snapped at fashion events, galas, charity dinners, etc., I am not surprised by it either. In fact, it raises my opinion of him just a bit.

An NHL enforcer has some sartorial style. Go ahead NOW say something funny about a guy who appreciates fashion.
You know, if a guy who dates girls like Elisha Cuthbert, wasn't proof enough fashionable men are appreciated right back.



This is a great "30,000 foot view" piece on how to make a Website successful from a design standpoint. I have always been a proponent of "less is more"- especially with web design. This article from BusinessWeek has some great points.

Add to that this "Best of/Worst of" slide show and it gives you a better visual understanding of the aforementioned article's talking points.


Changing the Way We View Entertainment

Originally, the comment below was just a simple retort to another blogger's commentary about the merger of ESPN Classic and the NFL (as reported in this weekend's Wall Street Journal) and what that relationship potentially means for both parties and the viewers/fans.

But in super-fast, 30-second retrospect, I think there is a waaaaaaay bigger picture here that will need to be addressed more fully. Essentially, in my response, I wrote:

At first glance, I think the problem for ESPN/NFL will come when they realize they no longer have anyone to push either of them to be better. NFL Network's debut a couple of years ago had them striving to be the "ESPN" of singular sports coverage (and personally I do not think have yet achieved it, though their product is improving).

In a weird way, it's what happened to the WWE (WWF) when they bought WCW. Monopolies generate a substandard product.

I find that's the case already with ESPN broadcasts- like the pros they cover, too often their talent takes plays off.

And I think it is all irrelevant anyway- mid to long-term, it's all going to be open distribution via Internet anyway. You can't stop it, the "Bigs" (ESPN, NFL, MLB, etc.) are just playing tug-o-war until high speed connectivity is as broad as cable access (and as affordable as cable alone).

Until then, they will just keep playing with each other to keep busy.

The global broadcast ping pong game that happens now is all irrelevant in the big picture that is sports television, television and entertainment in general. You see it now in the way sports is reported and the dissemination of news and in the way we take in our information and piece it together in fast ADD-like snippets (like this blog). It's what the major "broadcast" studios, and film studios, and writers' unions and actors' guilds and anyone who is anyone who has a stake in the future of public viewing consumption knows- the future for your eyeballs rests online, NOT in your cable box.

Distribution rights of digital media is the name of the game. Not this baby-step play-nicely-in-the-sandbox innuendo in which juggernauts like ESPN and the NFL are currently partaking. It all leads to the bigger footprint that is Digital Rights Management (DRM). The music industry is already entrenched in it. Hell, thank Steve Jobs for what the TV guys are pandering about now. They saw the future and it is iTunes-or more specifically, the idea behind iTunes.

It's why NBC Universal and the other TV giants are no longer playing the "Fall Premiere" card to the Nth degree and have decided fresh content 365 days a year to is better than pouring all your eggs in 1 basket and futilely driving the same "loyal" eyeballs (read: target demographic) to that basket over and over again. It's why 24 hours after you watch the latest episode of your favorite weekly shows that you can download them or stream them to your laptop, desktop, and mobile device.

People want access on demand to content they desire. That's it. It's simple. iTunes? Nah... iCandy. Mental/emotional brain fodder. It's the psychologically driven search for stimulation and satisfaction that keeps network execs up at night trying to create the next "ghost in the machine" that can successfully (i.e., financially) tap into our individual consumption epicenter.

It's why there are downloads and streaming and push for DRM-free content. People want what they want. The "Bigs" will give it to them (eventually). But they need something in return too. It's why radio succumbed to TV commercials which gave way to banner ads that gave way to click-before-you-watch/read/buy ads, the "Googling" of the Internet search engines and now streaming ads before you download pretty much anything. It's what they always have wanted. Your hard-earned dollar. We have less of them, for sure, to spend indiscriminately. Which makes those dollars you do spend on entertainment all the more valuable to the powers-that-be.

Ask yourself, "If I had just $50 left to spend this month for my own personal satisfaction, how do I choose to spend it?". It is no longer a bottomless pit, where the consumer could keep upping their consumption of goods and services and the entertainment industry could just take take take. Now the pie is finite. The share of voice that has always been measurable, but it is no longer expanding. It is more like hypertrophy- where the market is growing in on itself.

In marketing there are principles that preach essentially 2 ways to gain market share- grow the market and create new opportunity, or steal the other guys' share. Well, now it's almost as if the pie stopped expanding, but there are more slices to the pie (read: more networks, more portals, more games, etc.). And because your discretionary dollars are shrinking, even if the number of consumers expands there is no growth, but rather a slowing of sorts as inflation of the same dollar values stagnates the entertainment industry (hypertrophy), but also diversifies it.

So everything is cutthroat. But in a good way, because if you go back to my earliest point- regarding ESPN and the NFL- a monopoly creates an inferior product. Plato's quote that "necessity is the mother of invention" scarily still rings true. Today, competition breeds the necessity to be better- to build a better mousetrap- in order to secure the consumer's financial choices. That necessity is breeding online into media distribution that will astonish us, but in the end, require us to choose how we give up our last 50 bucks.

I know there are a lot of points mashed into one post here, but I think that also helps illuminate the point... SO much is going on in digital media that it has created this clog that will take time to filter. And probably there will be more than 1 sieve to successfully pan all the gold out of consumers, but the point is still the same. Somebody in the entertainment industry wants your discretionary dollar and the ones that are the most enterprising to accomodate you, will win it.


A Pause to Reflect

I have yet to express any reaction to the Celtics winning their 17th NBA Championship. So much has been written and covered, and the angles and perspectives are just vast. My own silence has just been more of a quiet satisfaction rather than a loss for words.

But I do not need to express how I feel. I did not win the championship. I am a fan, I appreciate what the home team has done (as has their football and baseball counterparts in the last decade) to climb to the top. And there's nothing better than the guys who did it taking a moment to reflect away from all the other slants and fanfare. This clip of KG and PP is great because it's honest and from their hearts.


The Dark Knight

I'm a bit of a comics and sci-fi geek, a sad result of growing up in Generation X whose denizens are the first-born recipients of the mass-media push of these genres (see: Superman: The Movie, Star Wars trilogy, Star Trek movies, original Battlestar Galactica series, Batman: Year One/The Dark Knight Returns graphic novels, etc.).

In anticipation of the sequel to the nearly perfect comic-to-feature-film "Batman Begins", "The Dark Knight", Warner Bros. is launching a new animated series directly to DVD, "Batman: The Gotham Knight" the week prior to the launch of the silver screen release (What cohesion! What marketing!).

At any rate, there are some stills of this new animated feature on IGN (posted back in February) as well as 2 more recent videos. The tone is appreciably darker (like the live-action movies) versus the older Batman animation (e.g., the superb "Batman: The Animated Series"). And wow, it looks impressive. And these preview images and videos got me even more psyched for "The Dark Knight" (for which I was already amply jacked up).

Quick note: David Goyer who (along with director Chris Nolan) wrote and produced the new Batman feature films, also has his hand writing/producing this version (as does Alan Burnett of the aforementioned, "Batman the Animated Series" production). That can only mean tried and true Bat-goodness. See? I am a geek for this stuff.

P.S. Here also is the latest trailer for "The Dark Knight". Enjoy.


He Stands Alone

Tiger Wins His 14th Major Championship.

On a bum knee.

After 5 rounds and 1 hole.



The Comeback C'ids- Celtics 97 Laker 91

Improbable? Yes. Unlikely? Yes. And YES. Unprecedented? Definitely. But the Celtics come-from-behind victory, on the road in L.A., down by 18 at the half was also historic, monumental, and down right awesome.

After the 3rd quarter and the start of the Celtics destined victory, I wrote the following:

So glad I stayed awake because the Celtics are about to show if they have what it takes to finish this series as champions. The reason the Celtics started playing well is three-fold... 1) they finally (FINALLY) started posting up KG against inferior defenders in Gasol and Odom. 2) They used the KG post up game to work inside out and 3) they actually started hitting their shots. P.S. If Paul Pierce works as hard the rest of the series as he did in the 3rd quarter, he'll be Finals MVP.

While I still think Paul Pierce cemented his Finals MVP selection with a 4th quarter as impressive as his 3rd quarter, I had more time to think about why the Celtics pulled off this win. And while I still believe my above points hold true (post game and hitting shots off the KG interior kick outs not to mention spreading the floor with shooters), I do not think they are the reason the Lakers could not close the deal.

Blame Kobe Bryant.

The "New Kobe" stuck around too long. You know, the unselfish Kobe, who, in the 1st half, despite only putting up 3 points (on 3 of 4 FT), managed to have his team up by 18 at the half because he did what championship-caliber superstars do when the opponents' total game plan revolves around the superstar- he drew double teams, passed out to open shooters, and played great defense. But then the 2nd half started, and you know what? The "New Kobe" stuck around too long. The problem was "New Kobe" did not have the same teammates around him in the 3rd and 4th quarters that stretched the floor and hit every open jumper in the 1st half. Kobe was once again joined by merely average teammates on the floor- ones capable of giving away a commanding lead in the game and, more importantly, tying this series at 2 games apiece.

When that starts to happen, when the roof starts caving in on a team, championship-caliber superstars take the game into their own hands and stave off a worst-case-scenario defeat. They become the game. They become super-DUPER-stars. They become heroic, when they are needed most. (Ironically, this NBA Finals has been promoted gratuitously and tied into the move "Hancock" with Will Smith in the lead as a reluctant superhero who first has to be nearly belligerent before he finds the value in championing for the good.) Wow, if that's not a parallel to Kobe Bryant, I do not know what is.

Anyway, back to the game. Where was "Old Kobe" when the Lakers needed him?
The poltergeist that possessed Lamar Odom's body and made it shoot 7-for-7, in the 1st half and net 15 points decided L.O.'s body was just too damn useless in the 2nd half to stick around.

And Pau Gasol? Has this guy even shown up in this series? I mean, I know there was a guy who's 7 feet tall standing on the court, but for all I know it could have been some stilts-walker from 1 of the 9,999,961 versions of Cirque du Soleil playing in Vegas in town to catch the game. The only time I saw Gasol break to the basket was to hop- seriously, he did not even jump- over Ray Allen once and another time happened to be moving forward and I think at the last minute realized he was actually moving faster than he anticipated and ran into the paint where, through no fault of his own, received a pass from (who else?) Kobe for an easy jam. Again, "New Kobe" relying on his teammates not to f**k things up.

So then "New Kobe" could not gear it up and morph into "Old Kobe" when his team needed him most- the 4th quarter. "Old Kobe" was powerless to stop the onslaught of the Celtics' shooters and KG posting up. He had no help and no rhythm to his shooting. You can blame 0-3 shooting in the first half leading to his poor 6-19 night for 17 points, but the switch to Paul Pierce on Bryant in the second half was a real difference maker. Perhaps it was this defensive assignment that handcuffed "Old Kobe" long enough from shedding the poor shooting to ensure Boston doing what the Lakers could not in Game 2- closing the gap of a large deficit (22 points in the case of the Lakers), taking the lead, and hanging onto said lead to close the game.

Whatever the factors, this game was as much about Kobe Bryant being "un-Kobe-like" in the 4th quarter. And that means the Celtics just put themselves up 3-1 in this NBA Finals. Teams up 3-1 in the NBA Finals are 28-0 all-time in NBA history. And regardless of how many more games it takes for the C's to claim a statistically-proven-yet-not-guaranteed (my attempt not to jinx this) 17th title, Pierce should be MVP simply because he didn't let "Old Kobe" show up in Game 4.

So give credit to Paul Pierce and the Celtics for an amazing win. But do not let Kobe- old or new- off the hook. Last night, he was merely another citizen when a city needed its hero.

Paul Pierce might have been possessed in the 2nd half of Game 4 by the
same demon that took over Lamar Odom's body earlier in the game. Sorry L.O.


Lakers 73 Celtics 71 After 3 Quarters

The Celtics just went on a 21-3 run to end the 3rd quarter in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. That erased a ridiculous lead the Lakers had maintained for 2 and 1/2 quarters. So glad I stayed awake because the Celtics are about to show if they have what it takes to finish this series as champions.

The reason the Celtics started playing well is three-fold... 1) they finally (FINALLY) started posting up KG against inferior defenders in Gasol and Odom. 2) They used the KG post up game to work inside out and 3) they actually started hitting their shots.

P.S. If Paul Pierce works as hard the rest of the series as he did in the 3rd quarter, he'll be Finals MVP.

The New NHL.com

The NHL has really stepped up it's "game" on its website. Tonight's NHL awards show has a slew of pre-ceremony goodness on NHL.com. Here's the current "NHL Hour" with Gary Bettman. Guest will be Jarome Iginla (awesome by the way).


Sony's New HT-CT100 Home Theater

They may not be "mainstream" yet, but the virtual surround soundbar speaker systems beginning to proliferate the home theater market are, in my mind, the next wave of "intelligent design meets practical application" in media enjoyment.

Ever since the first high-end models of these bad boys started surfacing several years ago, I have had my eye on them as a great way to minimize media hardware clutter and get a clean look to your system. The biggest suspicion (mostly correct) is that, unless you pay HUGE bucks for the best of the best, the virtual surround sound is about as surrounding as a baby's diaper on an adult. That stereotype (no pun intended) may be about to change.

Enter Sony's sub-$300 HT-CT100.

I may just have to add this 1 to my shopping cart.



I am not so much a car aficionado as much as I am a car enthusiast. Translation? I can't afford to buy 'em, so I just gawk and stare at cars I'd love to own, but haven't the cash flow. The latest example batting around my wish list is this...

The Nissan GT-R.

Any car inspired by a video game (Gran Turismo) has GOT to be worth the price of admission- in this case about $72k.

What you get: 480HP to go 0 to 60 in 3.5 seconds with a top speed of 193MPH. Yeah, she's fast.


A True Championship

Despite all the story lines, bylines, highlights, re-runs, re-treads, and arguments pro and con about a Celtics/Lakers 2008 NBA Final, let's call it what it really is... Justified.

The Eastern Conference's #1 seed versus the Western Conference's #1 seed. Enough said.

Throughout these playoffs there have been moments of angst for both squads (maybe more anxious minutes for the Celtics, but at this point no one should be counting). But to say it is only good for the over-30 crowd who remembers this great rivalry in its prime is a bit short-sighted.

Here's the thing about the Celts/Lakers match-up that I think gets missed.
It's not reliant on nostalgia alone. The NBA loves this Finals because YES, it does rope in the over 30 crowd.

But it ALSO ropes in the current generation of fans (and passive observers alike) because it features the NBA's reigning MVP (Bryant), the sports' biggest off-season storyline (the Celts Big 3), the biggest trade deadline deal that put the Lakers here (Gasol), and 2 of the longest tenured players on the teams that drafted them (Bryant/Pierce).

It is the absolute culmination of the NBA's hoped-for pedigree- history, franchise players, smart trades, and top seeds.

Really, stop angling just for the old school match-up and appreciate this a a true championship final. The NBA... where justified happens.

UPDATE: I have an on-going discuss
ion on another website regarding the nostalgia factor versus the NBA's true ROI having a Lakers/Celtics finale. The latest argument was that today's "casual" NBA-watcher does not care about the current state of the NBA and the story's involved (that I outlined above). Thus the NBA gurus hope nostalgia drives ratings of this Finals. Here's my latest (and greatest I think) point to date... NO WAY!

Here's the thing... a casual fan today is not just some schmo that was old enough to remember 1987 (the last time these 2 teams met in the Finals).

In marketing terms, the Holy Grail is turning casual fans into avid fans (i.e., the fans that will pay for any and all things related to the sport and their team).

The NBA needs to convert this (the younger) generation's casual fan because they get a longer "shelf-life" out of that new/younger convert's discretionary dollar than they do the guy that already made up his mind in 1987.

So it definitely is about more than nostalgia. Just ask the front office brain trust of the NBA who balance the books.