if it ain't broke, don't fix it

I've been out of the state for several weeks and, upon return, was alarmed to discover the new Texas driver license. My friends have been dissing it on Facebook and with good reason: it's hideous. Think 1980s meets Small Town, USA with a color palette that the designer most likely chose while hungover.

The last redesign was in 2001. I'm not crazy about the one I have now, but I think it looks official and can be taken seriously (as compared to Hawaii's - think McLovin from Superbad). It's Texas-y without repping the stereotypical cowboy boots and tumbleweeds.

Since the redesigned license went into effect in April, I'm kicking myself for not updating my permanent address a few months ago. Now I have to bide my time 'til April 2010 - when I have no choice but to renew my license.

Maybe I'll wear blue eyeshadow and my best scrunchie for the occasion.


want change? vote for it

After doing some research, I was still torn between Lee Leffingwell and Brewster McCracken in Austin's mayoral race. My boyfriend and I even decided to skip early voting and cast our ballots on Saturday (election day) instead so we could marinate on the decision.

So after checking online a little after midnight yesterday to see who won, I was dismayed to discover there's now a runoff between Leffingwell and McCracken. Leffingwell garnered 47% of the vote and was just three percentage points shy of victory.

With 27% of the vote, McCracken will have his work cut out for him.

In a twist of fate, this runoff with cost taxpayers even more. It's ironic because only 13% of registered voters - roughly 58,400 people - in Austin cast their ballot in this election.

What happened to the widely espoused ideas of change and hope that took hold during Obama's campaign?

It's crucial to elect officials who can turn this economy around while still staying true to and protecting all that makes Austin so unique. It truly saddens me that people continue to sit around and complain but fail to take it upon themselves to be the catalyst for change.

Austin, I knew you were weird. I just didn't know you were indifferent.


movies to watch out for

I can't wait for Paper Heart and Extract to be released in theatres. Here's why:


Micheal Cera is in this movie, which automatically means I'll be seeing it. My obsession aside, I think Charlene is endearing and I like the whole premise of the film. Love? Yes, please.


I have Arrested Development to thank for my hardcore crush on Michael Cera; I also have the series to thank for showcasing the eternally dry, sarcastic brilliance of Jason Bateman. The latter is in this movie, which is the brainchild of none other than Office Space creator Mike Judge.

Paper Heart will be in theatres August 7th and Extract is slated for release on Labor Day (September 7th).

That, my friends, is simply not soon enough.


happy earth day

In honor of Earth Day, I found three pocket-sized food guides I'd like to share: one for avoiding fruit/veggies with the highest concentrations of pesticides, one for selecting sustainable seafood and another for ordering sushi with Mother Earth in mind.

Environmental Working Group's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides lists the "Dirty Dozen" and the "Clean 15" within the produce department - a convenient way to determine when to go organic.

Monterey Bay Aquarium in California has created a Seafood Watch Pocket Guide based on region, so you can get your seafood fix without worrying about overfishing or potentially dangerous mercury levels. Ditto for MBA's Sushi Guide (click on "Guide" link above and scroll down to download).

Now I just need to print these babies out and throw 'em in my purse. No more agonizing at the grocery store - or restaurant - for me!


go barefoot at butler park!

A few days after my last post about the TOMS One Day Without Shoes event, I received an email from TOMS HQ notifying me I was in the running for their summer internship program in LA.
And that to showcase my passion, creativity and organizational skills, I need to drive traffic to their site and host a One Day Without Shoes event in Austin this Thursday.

So come out to Doug Sahm Hill at Butler Park this Thursday, the 16th, from 6-7 p.m. to hang out barefoot and raise awareness about the TOMS One for One movement and their efforts to prevent podoconiosis. Bring all your friends, fly a kite, bring your dog, have a picnic, take in the beautiful downtown skyline, or simply relax on a blanket - just do it barefoot!

A special thanks to many local TOMS retailers who have supported my event by sharing my fliers with customers: Whole Earth Provision Co. (San Antonio & N. Lamar locations), Tyler's (Guadalupe), Hem Jeans, Whole Foods (N. Lamar), Betty Sport (12th St.), St. Bernard Sports and SoLa (S. Lamar).

Check out my official Facebook invite, follow TOMS on Twitter and text "PLEDGE" to 75309 if you plan to go barefoot this Thursday!


one day without shoes

On April 16th I'll be going barefoot to raise awareness for the TOMS One Day Without Shoes campaign. Here's the TOMS Web site.

As the proud owner of not one but two pairs of TOMS (red canvas and black corduroy!), I like to think they're on to something: one for one. It's simple; buy a pair of shoes and another pair is donated to someone in need through shoe drops.

Since its inception in 2006, TOMS has given over 140,000 pairs of shoes to children. You can also support their endeavor through t-shirt and hat purchases (I love their "Drop TOMS not bombs" shirt, as well as their line with Element).

They are also by far the most comfortable shoes I have ever owned. Even - dare I say it? - better than that South Texas staple, flip flops. I get stopped at least once a month by someone curious about my TOMS:

"Oooh, you have TOMS! Where did you get them?!" or...
"I've heard they're really comfortable - are they?"

I like a company that stands for something. Which is why I'm more than happy to promote their cause next Thursday. There will also be three shoeless events in Austin and two in San Antonio, so check their site for all the info.

Here are some facts:
  • Fact #1: In some developing nations, children must walk for miles to food, clean water and to seek medical help.
  • Fact #2: Cuts and sores on feet can lead to serious infection.
  • Fact #3: Often, children cannot attend school barefoot.
  • Fact #4: In Ethiopia, approximately one million people are suffering from Podoconiosis, a debilitating and disfiguring disease caused by walking barefoot in volcanic soil.
  • Fact #5: Podoconiosis is 100% preventable by wearing shoes.
So whether you're walking barefoot around your house or your cube at the office, please be sure to support One Day Without Shoes. Or support the TOMS cause in general through a purchase on their site - be sure to use this promo code: odwssa2V103MWD7.


happy silver, house on mango street

On Friday Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street turned the big 2-5 and to mark the occasion, Vintage has released a special anniversary edition. On a more local level, the San Antonio Central Library (aka "The Enchilada Library") celebrated with music, cake, roving paleta carts (mango, ¡por supuesto!), a chanclas decoration station and a reading and book signing by none other than Miss Cisneros herself.

San Antonio, Bexar County and The State of Texas each issued proclamations to honor her groundbreaking work. Cisneros, donning her very cool Virgen de Guadalupe cowboy boots, read her yet-unpublished (and first-ever) story about her King William neighborhood, "Have you seen Marie?"

At once a beautiful tribute to her barrio and an intimate love letter to San Antonio, the piece chronicles Cisneros' hunt for her missing cat, Marie. As I sat outside the library in the heart of downtown, listening as the wind carried her voice, I couldn't help but feel reconnected to the cultural heartbeat of a city I spent 18 years in.

As someone so aptly put it during the celebration, Cisneros is San Antonio. And I couldn't agree more.

To one who has inspired so many: ¡Felicitaciones y feliz cumpleaños!


nylon mag goes digital

A while back I subscribed to NYLON magazine for free through a deal with Urban Outfitters. I really like their content; it reminds me of a younger W. So imagine my delight when I discover the April issue waiting for me not in my mailbox, but in my inbox.

Here's why Don Hellinger, NYLON President, made the decision to go digital:
  • No more waiting for your new issues to come in the mail. We will email each new issue of NYLON to you the day our editors sign off on it! And yes, the digital edition has all the content of the paper version; plus you can easily click, save, and print out the photos -- or share them with friends online.
  • No more lost issues. Ever had a magazine misplaced by the post office? Chewed up by the dog? Borrowed by your BFF? No problem – each digital edition in your NYLON subscription is always available to you, on our website or your computer!
  • No more paper. Looking for ways to reduce your carbon footprint? You have found one – enjoying NYLON Magazine on your screen instead of on paper! You’ll have less to throw out too.
Fabulous. But what if I decide I miss the paper version? Simply give customer service a call and they'll hook you up.

So far I'm in love with the digital version. Okay, it takes a little more time and effort to read, but I like the greenness of it all. The cherry on top: story teasers are clickable, so say if I wanted to read the 'Party like it's 1999!' cover story, I mouse over it to see the page number - and clicking on it takes me directly to that article.

The ads are still there so the advertisers win, and I personally think they look better on-screen. I'm sure Nylon saves a ton of money, too - on shipping, printing, etc. What a perfect solution for the environment and the recession! (Vogue: are you listening?)


sxsw in retrospect

I finally got a SXSW wristband this year and had four incredible days chock full o' music. It's Tuesday and I'm still a little fuzzy - but given yesterday's post, apparently alert enough to string sentences together.

I saw a lot of bands ranging from mainstream to indie, awesome to WTF. Here are the ones that left an impression on me the most.

BEST BEATS: Ladyhawke

Saw her at Stubb's Wednesday night and couldn't sit still. Most in the crowd weren't familiar with Ladyhawke, but by the end of her show they were dancing around to the 80s-esque tunes with the best of 'em. She didn't exactly engage the crowd, but with beats like the ones on her self-titled album, she doesn't need to. Ladyhawke's music is just plain fun and fabulous - and her "Dusk Till Dawn" video is hilarious. Listen to everything.

MOST UNIQUE: Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele

Dent May's songs make me feel like a 50s housewife throwing a tiki party in Hawaii. In a good way. Or, in the words of May himself, the band is "Tropical/French pop/Healing & Easy Listening." We almost missed his show at Antone's on Friday but I had to see this ukulele action in the flesh. My boyfriend is pretty much obsessed with Dent May now; we can't help but smile when we listen to him. Oh, and the drummer gets extra cool points for using a tambourine and a maraca instead of drum sticks. Listen to "Meet Me In The Garden."


Dan Keyes, the (very attractive) genius behind Young Love, knows how to work the crowd - or, more specifically, the ladies in the crowd. We went to two shows and for both he hopped off the stage to dance with his (adoring and subsequently flipping out) fans. The girl in front of me at Pangaea turned to the girl next to me and said, "Were you at his Volume show Wednesday? I recognize you!" I like artists that bring people together. Keyes dances and sings through his entire show, which is impressive because his songs are intense. Keep your eyes open for his new album on April 28th (the day after my birthday...cough, cough). Listen to "Discotech."


To catch their two shows we waited a total of four hours. I'm not a patient person but the funny thing is, I don't miss those four hours. It was worth it. The first show was a SXSW Live taping on set and the second was at Stubb's on Saturday - the perfect ending. Their self-titled 1997 album will always have a special place in my heart; "Jumper" made it into the set list and it was awesome. Stephan Jenkins doesn't take his success for granted and seems like an artist who genuinely appreciates his fans and music in equal parts. He even threw flowers out into the audience when he walked on stage. There's a reason they've been around for 12 years - and they'll be releasing another album soon. Listen to anything off their eponymous album, or "NonDairy Creamer."


apocalypse now?

I feel like a broken record, but advertising has been in trouble for some time now. I knew it was bad in September while I was in New York. I knew it was awful a month ago when I emailed my resume to an agency hours after it announced a new account, only to receive an automated response that their disk crashed. And now there's today's AdAge article by Bob Garfield.

Here's part of Garfield's intro:
Chicken Little, don your hardhat. Nudged by recession, doom has arrived.

The toll will be so vast -- and the institutions of media and marketing are so central to our economy, our culture, our democracy and our very selves -- that it's easy to fantasize about some miraculous preserver of "reach" dangling just out of reach. We need "mass," so mass, therefore, must survive. Alas, economies are unsentimental and denial unproductive. The post-advertising age is under way.

This isn't about the end of commerce or the end of marketing or news or entertainment. All of the above are finding new expressions online, and in time will flourish thanks to the very digital revolution that is now ravaging them. The future is bright. But the present is apocalyptic. Any hope for a seamless transition -- or any transition at all -- from mass media and marketing to micro media and marketing are absurd.

The sky is falling, the frog in the pot has come to a boil and, oh yeah, we are, most of us, exquisitely, irretrievably fucked.

Advertising is infamous for its incessant evolution. Like Garfield, I suppose, my gloom has turned into sheer curiosity: what the hell is going to come out of this mess?


dear vogue: green is the new black

Vogue's March issue garnered a lot of positive press for its cover choice: First Lady Michelle Obama. I was ecstatic to come home and find the issue waiting to be unwrapped.

Until I tried to pick it up.

Better known as "The Power Issue" of Vogue, every March means one - well, maybe two - things: a workout for your mailman and a workout for you.

I was disgusted to discover that the first article, Susie Boyt's "All the Things You Are," doesn't appear until page 256. Total issue size? 510 pages. The spine is one inch thick.

Given my background, I like to think I'm predisposed to favor advertising more than the average consumer. I also appreciate Vogue ads in particular because they're usually high fashion - whimsical, artsy and occasionally stunning - and great fodder for my collages.

But it's 2009, the era of hybrid-car-driving, reusable-shopping-bag-toting locavores. For the most part, I'm happy the rest of the world has decided to jump on the green bandwagon.

Which is why I'm disappointed that Vogue still marches on with its massive, tree cemetery of a Power Issue. The only powerful thing about it is the ad dollar signs the magazine must be seeing.

Looks like our ideas of green differ.


little miss opinion featured on sxsw edition of 'the saucidoslant'

Now, for a bit of shameless self-promotion: little miss opinion was featured on a special SXSW edition of The SaucidoSlant last night. I gave my two cents for artist recommendations this coming week; check out the video below to hear my top three...

Midnight SaucidoSlant! SX Special!

And for all you foodies out there, be sure to check out Yelp Deals at SXSW Week which features specials by the likes of Uchi and Sugar Mama's Bakeshop. It looks like this year SXSW = YUMM. Yes, I just made that corny joke.


icons of america, updated

In celebration of Glamour's 70th anniversary, American icons have received an
update from a handful of young celebrities. Think Alicia Keys as First Lady Michelle Obama, Alexis Bledel as Rosie the Riveter and America Ferrera as Dolores Huerta.

Some renditions are stunning, like Bledel's. Others miss the mark, like Emma Stone as Carrie Bradshaw.

But I give these ladies props for attempting to fill such enormous shoes. What a fun idea!


fortune's list: the good, the bad & the ugly

I like lists because they never fail to get me fired up. Especially when it comes to lists regarding corporations.

Enter the World's Most Admired Companies - all 363 of them. Number one? The company who makes the laptop I'm typing this very post with, Apple. And since my dream car is a pimped out Prius, I'm thrilled to see Toyota at lovely number three.

The least admired, in terms of innovation: Dillard's. I wasn't surprised, but felt bad when I heard an Austin Dillard's is closing...at a mall already struggling to stay afloat.

Fortune also has a top 10 list for financial soundness. Number one is - brace yourselves, gentle readers - Exxon Mobil.

Personally, I find it hard to respect a company that posted record profits while the rest of us were writhing in pain at the gas pump.

I'm stepping off my soapbox now. But I'd love to hear your point-of-view on this list.

professional what?

There's something odd about this economic downturn - but I couldn't quite put my finger on it until I read this Wall Street Journal article.

In it, Burson-Marsteller CEO Mark Penn points out that the 64% of Americans who identify themselves as 'professionals' are hit harder than those employed in, say, the fast-food industry.

Bottom line: the stimulus package will create jobs, but not relevant ones for professionals who perhaps need it the most. Penn said it best:
We are totally unprepared for this new phenomenon. We have safety nets for the chronically unemployed, for the fast-food workers let go (oddly they may be the only ones keeping their jobs in this recession), and for the manufacturing plants that have been shuttered. The stimulus will create construction jobs galore. But we have nothing for the tens of thousands of displaced advertising creatives and newspaper writers and editors that are among the newly unemployed. They can't build roads -- all they learned how to do was to write ads and draft editorials.
To reach their target audience, great creatives use ideas to build a bridge.

If push comes to shove, will they trade thinking caps for hard hats?


states united

Despite my avoidance of politics, I am fascinated by designers who create pieces inspired by the government.
Take Greg Beauchamp, for example, and his stunning States United - inspired by Barack Obama's following words:
It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.
Beauchamp also has an advertising documentary out, Art & Copy that I'd love to see.

What really struck me in the Creativity article is the idea behind the work. His goal is for States United to reach Obama directly via online word-of-mouth. The point, should he succeed: everyday citizens have the capacity to grab the president's attention.


customer service is key

For Valentine's Day I ordered my sweetheart a wonderfully-designed Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) shirt online...but had a hell of a time picking the right size. I decided to err on the side of caution since American Apparel shirts are notorious for shrinking; upon inspection we decided it would still be too big.

I e-mailed CafePress, the company that creates the shirts, to request an exchange and had resigned myself to eating the shipping costs. And then I received this reply from a CafePress.com Support Associate:
I am sorry the item you received does not fit perfectly. I want you to be 100% satisfied with everything you purchase at CafePress.com. I am ordering you a replacement right away in the new size at no additional cost.

There is no need for a return! I do not want you to incur any additional shipping charges. Please keep the original as our way of saying thanks for shopping at CafePress.com.
So I have two shirts for the price of one, despite the fact that it was completely my fault ordering the incorrect size. The cherry on top: CafePress fufills SU2C orders at a 25% discount, enabling SU2C to direct the difference toward cancer research.

I am so impressed with CafePress, and the work of SU2C, that I couldn't resist sharing my story with you. I don't get any kickbacks, pinkie promise. But please do at least consider these two organizations the next time you're feeling charitable or creative.


moma goes to brooklyn

Photo courtesy of happycorp

New York's Museum of Modern Art has taken over the Atlantic Avenue/Pacific Street station in Brooklyn - by replacing ad space with reproductions of works from its permanent collection.

I'm all for exposing art to the masses, a la Transport for London's Platform for Art campaign. What's even cooler is the integration and thought process that went into such a well-rounded undertaking.

According to the Creativity article...
  • Street teams handed out brochures and maps of the exhibit
  • On the campaign website, visitors can download an audio tour for more info about 10 of the 58 pieces on display
  • Calling a posted 1-800 number gives users additional information about the project and connects them with the membership department
  • Typing in a three-digit code plays an audio track with artwork information
  • Museum educators also offered tours of the subway exhibit
The exhibit, in conjunction with thehappycorp, runs through March 15th. If you're in NYC, be sure to check it out!


newsflash: media needs to embrace change

With the topsy-turvy nature of our economy lately, it's no surprise change is finally knocking on the media industry's door. In a Market Watch article today, Jon Friedman explains that another side effect of the times has lead to the decreased value of media celebrity, with CNBC's Jonathan Wald as a cautionary tale.

But what really bothered me was the following logic:
What this means to the public is that journalism quality is going to sink. TV stations will try to hire younger, less experienced, less sophisticated news professionals as a way to keep costs down.
Did Friedman really just say that? Yes, yes he did. An eternal optimist and relentless advocate for giving new talent a chance, I have many qualms with the above paragraph.
  • One: Okay, okay - journalism will change because of the influx of novice reporters. But that's a good thing. Journalism has been in dire need of a makeover for some time. We're no longer living in an era of good ole boy newsrooms with reporters old enough to be my grandfather. Somehow, the industry missed that headline.
  • Two: Fresh minds mean fresh ideas. For example, maybe we'll see more integration with social media, like Twitter feedback from viewers on the ticker at the bottom of the screen.
Think of how the Bush administration communicated with constituents over the past eight years. Now think about Obama's communication methods during just the first few weeks in office. That's one big breath of fresh air - and one that was long overdue.
  • Three: What if Barbara Walters was never given a chance? Even the great Miss O herself was once wet behind the ears. Point is, there are bright, eager journalists out there with brilliant ideas but without a platform from which to execute them.
What it boils down to for me is that being young and inexperienced is not a weakness. It's an opportunity - not only for the new grad entering the workforce, but also for the employer smart enough to hire a change agent when they meet one.

february looks like...

etcetera, etc.
etcetera, etc. - by verucasglory on Polyvore.com

My fashion-maven cousin shared Polyvore with me some time ago and I am officially in love with the site. I'm obsessed with collages - and Polyvore rocks because it's a custom mishmash of fashion, interior design, music...whatever floats your boat.

I haven't posted in a while (my apologies!) so I thought I'd share my February fixations with you.


fifty and fabulous (exclamation point)

She'll probably be less than thrilled that I'm broadcasting this to the world, but today is my mom's 50th birthday. Know who else is turning the big 5-0 this year? Barbie.

She (Barbie, not my mom) will be celebrating the past five decades with various tie-ins and events. Here's what's slated for the icon of style:
I had a slew of Barbies growing up, including the original Midge and Skipper dolls, Barbie car and dream house that were my mom's. So I find it fitting that two of the coolest women are sharing a milestone birthday this year.

Here's to being fabulous at any age!


the ferrari of vending machines

Let's face it: vending machines are ugly. Stuck in the 80s, the cheap and clunky machines make me want to go Office Space on them.

Until I read an article in W's January issue about U*tique, the self-proclaimed luxury vending machine that made its debut at Fred Segal this month.

Each U*tique will tout 50 products at a time, relevant to its location. Some featured partners thus far include: Lancome, Bliss, C.O. Bigelow, Smashbox, and Vosges Chocolate.

What's really cool? Product reviews and ingredient information are available at the touch of your fingertips.

For the most part, their intentions seem on par. I'm skeptical that consumers will forgo traditional shopping venues for the nearest U*tique. I'm also surprised by the company's seven-page press release announcing the product launch.

Nonetheless, I'm all for aesthetic upgrades. So long D16, hello 21st century.


garden for wildlife

I went for a stroll around Hyde Park today and noticed something I've never seen before: really cool yards certified by the National Wildlife Federation. Here's more info on the NWF's Certified Wildlife Habitat program:
A Community Wildlife Habitat is a community that provides habitat for wildlife throughout the community--in individual backyards, on school grounds and in public areas such as parks, community gardens, places of worship and businesses.

It is a place where the residents make it a priority to provide habitat for wildlife by providing the four basic elements that all wildlife need: food, water, cover and places to raise young.

The community also educates its residents about sustainable gardening practices such as reducing or eliminating chemical fertilizers and pesticides, conserving water, planting native plants, removing invasive plants and composting.

It hosts workshops about gardening for wildlife, and holds community events such as stream or trail cleanups to make the community healthier for wildlife and people alike. A Community Wildlife Habitat project creates a place where people, flora and fauna can all flourish.
The program sounds like a fun - and awesome - way to protect the environment. Keep on rockin' those green thumbs, Austinites.


grammys portraits update

I e-mailed Rob Schwartz, Executive Creative Director of Chiat\Day's Grammys campaign (see my earlier post) and have great news. Here's his response:
Thanks for your interest. You are not alone. Lots of people keep asking. We are in the process of making posters happen. Hopefully they will be made available on the Grammys website soon.
Ask and ye shall receive!


change we can believe in

I've been waiting for this day for a long time. I don't think anything else needs to be said. Below are my favorite snippets of President Obama's inaugural speech, courtesy of CNN.
...Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land -- a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics...

Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America...

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them -- that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works -- whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account -- to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day -- because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government...

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate...

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed -- why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath...

Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back, nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.


portraits of inspiration

I haven't seen something this cool in a while: to promote this year's Grammys (on February 8th) TBWA\Chiat\Day has created portraits of artists like Lil Wayne, Rihanna and Thom Yorke entirely out of song titles that have inspired them along the way.

I wish I could share the portraits within this post because they are incredible, but unfortunately I'll just have to implore you to visit Creativity and to click on each artist's name above. Make sure you zoom in to get the full effect.

I am thisclose to e-mailing Chiat\Day to see if I can get my hands on a poster (or even just a print) version of the ad of Thom Yorke.

This is why I love advertising.


go green in '09

Target has been making a solid effort as of late at stocking more and more environmentally friendly options for the masses. Products are grouped into three (predictable) categories: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Target's Garment Hanger Reuse/Recycle Program kept roughly 411 million hangers from entering landfills in 2007 alone - and the corporation has recycled more than 980 million pounds of cardboard. Opting for more energy-efficient lighting in stores has yielded more than an 80% savings in annual energy costs.

They even accept batteries and cell phones to be recycled, with proceeds benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

I bought some sustainably-sourced bamboo pillows from Target a few months ago and am more than pleased with my choice. Sure, it was a few dollars more, but it gives me peace at night to know I gave our planet a moment or two to breathe.

And I just have to say, if I ever have a kid she'll for sure be sporting some organic baby apparel from Target. So adorable!

If this is a shade of green things to come, I can't wait.


sounds of success

Every few months or so I'll hear a song that I love so much it invades my brain and refuses to leave until I can figure out the artist and song name.

Kind of aggravating really, until I can piece it together with my internet sleuthing (and sometimes the help of my internet-ninja boyfriend).

I thought I'd share the fruits of my labor with you.

Lykke Li - I'm Good, I'm Gone (Black Kids Remix)
[She's on the US leg of her tour and will be at Antone's in February]

Kenna - Out of Control

These songs are the perfect little pick-me-up.


design in the future

Photo from ReForm School / Home Ec

Advertising Age's Lenore Skenazy posted an article today featuring a chat with futurist Richard Watson and his predicted trends that will affect marketing. I was elated to see Watson's second insight: physical design will become "infinitely more important."

Why? Well...
First: It's hard to get anyone's attention with an ad, so the product has to do the attention grabbing. Another reason for the ascendancy of product design: the aging population. If seniors can't open it, hold it, press it or use it, your product will miss a huge market.
One small step for marketing, one giant leap for designers everywhere.


recipes galore

I'm asked a lot by friends and family where I get recipes from. I used to look to Food Network a lot, but I'm kind of over the whole celebrity chef thing. Plus I got royally screwed by a Paul Deen recipe once.

When searching for Valentine's Day dinner ideas a few years ago, I stumbled across hundreds (probably thousands) of recipes from Whole Foods online. That chicken piccata, chocolate cashew pie, horchata or those cheese and bell pepper enchiladas I've made? All thanks to those creative geniuses over at Whole Foods.

You can even browse by certain criteria, like dish type, main ingredient, conveniences and special diet. The food guides are pretty awesome, too. I learned how to substitute refined sugar for more natural sweeteners here.

In keeping in line with the Whole Foods vibe, the recipes range from positively decadent to uber healthy. It's no surprise the ingredients call for Whole Foods' brands, but to save a hefty chunk-o-change you can usually find the ingredients at any grocery store.

And if I can't (like that time I needed brown rice syrup) I'll make a special pilgrimage to Whole Foods. It's a win-win, really.

I'll be testing out farfalle pasta with winter pesto this week. As for you, my friend: happy searching!


the lush life

You always know when you've stumbled across a Lush shop because you can smell it long before you can find it.

What is Lush, you ask? It's like the saucy, rebellious (and British!) daughter of Aveda and The Body Shop.

Infamous for being fresh, handmade and using little to no preservatives or packaging, Lush is also an excellent example of branding. Here's a snippet of Lush's Core Beliefs:
We believe in long candlelit baths, sharing showers, massage, filling the world with perfume and in the right to make mistakes, lose everything and start again.

* We also believe words like fresh and organic have honest meaning beyond marketing.
Lush is also the purported creator of the now-ubiquitous bath bomb. Here's a tip: when the airport security guard asks what's in your carry-on, don't say "bath bomb."

Even better news: Lush finally has a South Texas outpost in San Antonio. Oddly enough, Austin is still lacking in that department. Word has it that one was slated to open at The Domain, but an agreement was never reached.

If you're a Lush newbie, allow me to make some recommendations (but don't blame me for your future addiction):
They also have fun stuff, like the Too Drunk... emotibomb. And most of the products are vegan. The staff are ridiculously knowledgeable and always seem to be having a blast.



the visitor

In a world of six billion people, it only takes one to change your life.

That's the idea behind The Visitor (2008), a film I watched tonight with the fam and found deeply moving. Of course, I'm also a little biased because I'm a sucker for almost any movie shot in New York City. And anything involving drums.

Without giving away too much, I will say this: The Visitor is about college professor Walter Vale (Richard Jenkins), a Connecticut man who's excelled at carving out an empty existence since the death of his wife many years ago.

Until he returns to his old apartment in the Village to find foreign couple Tarek and Zainab (Haaz Sleiman and Danai Jekesai Gurira) taking up residence there.

While I try to avoid discussing politics at all costs, I have to admit that I've never been a fan of Customs/Border Patrol/Immigration. Maybe because when I was younger I always got searched as I traveled with my parents around Europe. And I was afraid of the menacing passport stamper person.

But The Visitor brings up some very valid issues, especially post 9/11. Despite what the trailer may lead you to believe, it's not a movie that will leave you warm and fuzzy all over.

But it will get you thinking.


live to eat, eat to live

I love to eat, cook and bake; when it's food-related, I generally adore it all.

In fact, I spent a sizable chunk of my graduation money on a well-planned, whirlwind tour of culinary delight all around Austin for a solid week or so back in August. Aside from a similar foodie escapade throughout London, this was the best. money. ever. spent.

But when it comes to a heaping plate of steamed and uninspired kale, my taste buds and I would rather pass. I try to eat healthy at home so I can splurge with reckless abandon when out on the town. But let's be honest, life's too short for terrible food.

With The World's Healthiest Foods site and recipes, I can have my cake and eat it, too. Well...not technically. But now I can eat my whole foods in meals that are actually palatable, amazingly hearty and usually quite good. And (don't stone me for admitting this) suddenly that cake becomes much less appetizing.

Even better, the recipes are quick and easy. You can even subscribe to George's daily e-newsletter (as I have) with the Food of the Week and various recipes. Now there's no excuse.

The non-profit site is part of The George Mateljan Foundation and is backed up by independent scientific research. Pretty legit in my book.

What's really great is their seven-day menu, ideal for taking healthy eating for a test drive. Commit to one day, or be brave and try the entire week. I don't like seared tuna, for example, so I subbed out a different entree from their list of hundreds of other recipes.

And the nutritional benefits are incredible. Follow one of the daily menus and you'll get: six servings of veggies, four servings of fruit, 80 grams of protein, 40 grams of fiber and over 1,000 milligrams of calcium. And a partridge in a pear tree.

All for around 1,800 calories! Take that, food pyramid.

My boyfriend, an avowed nemesis of the vegetable, was brave enough to tag along with me for four days worth of George's recipes. His favorite? The Asian Chicken Salad. He even wants me to make it again (gasp!).

For that entire week, I felt fabulous. I had more energy and felt great about myself. I learned how to cook with vegetables I'd never used before - and wound up getting sexy, top-of-the-line chef knives for Christmas from my boyfriend so I'd keep the veggies coming his way.

It's not a novel idea, really. Buy a ton of fresh produce and have at it. I used to live to eat; now I'll eat to live a little bit more.

When I went grocery shopping for all the ingredients, the bagger sized me up and said, "You have some really good produce here," and then asked, visibly impressed, "Are you a chef?"


obsessive consumption

I stumbled across the Obsessive Consumption: What did you buy today? blog a few days ago and have officially become an addict. From deodorant to a pepper grinder, she basically turns everyday purchases into amazingly graphic line art. My favorite? The airport grilled cheese.

Unfortunately for me, and maybe you too, her 2009 magazine subscription offer has already sold out. I'll just have to hold out 'til March 2010 (jeez, that sounds scary!) for her book with 650 of Kate's drawings in color.

She also has cool stuff on Etsy, like this hilarious Holy Annual Percentage Rates Guts pillow. Here's her description:
This pillow is 24 inches by 24 inches (BIG MAMMA).
Constructed out of vintage fabric with a new pillow insert.

This pillow's materials were found in Mississippi and Alabama at various thrift stores and estate sales.

You may use this pillow to throw your entire body into it as you wail away about how high your interest rates are on your credit cards.

If you order a pillow I will also throw in some other Obsessive Consumption Swag.

As brilliant as it is, I don't think I could ever bring myself to fork over $200 for a pillow, regardless of how life-alteringly fabulous it is. But I'll keep on dreamin'!


make the kindest cut of all

Anyone who knows me knows that my hair is my thing. I used to have straight hair as a little girl, but once I hit adolescence - bam! - my hair was difficult. Thick as hell, slightly wavy, and oh so frizzy.

I was in hair limbo 'til I met my current stylist. With a few brandishes of his razor, I finally felt like my hair reflected who I was - fun, creative and unique.

A few months ago it dawned on me: what about people everywhere who claim their hair to be their thing, like me, but then lose it during their battle with cancer?

A recent study revealed that nearly 60% of women consider hair loss the most dreaded side effect they face when undergoing chemotherapy. Real-hair wigs can cost as much as $1,200 and are often only partially covered by health insurance.

That, along with several personal reasons, inspired me to cut off more than eight inches last month for Pantene Beautiful Lengths. At the time of my donation, they worked with the American Cancer Society to craft wigs for women who experienced hair loss due to cancer treatment.

I'm not trying to preach to you from my soap box on high, but I will ask you this: please at least consider donating your hair the next time you feel like lopping off eight inches or more. It takes six ponytails to make one wig.

And now, the before and after pictures. Drum roll, please!


a sign of the times

In response to the unstable economy, automaker Hyundai launched its unusual "Assurance Program" with ads from San Francisco-based Goodby, Silverstein & Partners yesterday.

It's simple: if you buy or lease a new Hyundai and within the next year lose your income due to a job loss, you can return your car for free. Sans penalty.

The tagline: certainty in uncertain times.

I like the idea. Or, at least, I'm trying to like it. It's a great gesture, one along the lines of when the automaker became the first in the U.S. to offer a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty in 1998.

But it feels like the buyer should be knocking on wood before signing on the dotted line. After all, it's hard to be enthusiastic about the prospect of losing your job. You know things are bad when the elephant in the room is not only addressed but also invited to carve the turkey and stay for dinner.

Kudos to Hyundai for making such a bold move. I'm curious, though, how their program will play out with consumers over the next year.


five a day...

It's said that eating an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but what about writing down five things that make you happy daily?

Enter ButterBeeHappy.com, a site launched in March 2008 by John Pounders (student at The University of Alabama - and an ad major at that!) dedicated to promoting happiness through learning the fine art of gratitude. Users register for free and are encouraged to log daily entries with five things they're happy about or grateful for. The lists can be set to private or public.

Think of it as a much easier blog with far greater reward.

According to the site, research conducted by Harvard, UC Davis and Miami University has shown that jotting down just five thoughts of gratitude each day can make you a happier person:
Positive emotions and psychology help people thrive. In life there are many factors that can get people down, such as the economy. However, psychological research shows that economic factors are a poor predictor of overall happiness. Can you guess what is a good predictor of happiness? That's right, gratitude. When you jot down your five happy thoughts each day you are really practicing being grateful, and are thus appreciating your life to its full extent.
Admittedly the site design is less than stellar, but Pounders is open to improvements. It's the idea behind it that's so powerful.

little miss opinion's list for today? In no particular order:
1. Chocolate croissants...or warm biscuits, it's a tie, really
2. Laughing 'til I cried
3. Cashmere
4. Organic produce
5. Unconditional love

"The test of all happiness is gratitude."
-G.K. Chesterton, 1908


h is for helvetica

I came across this amazing Helvetica-font alphabet shirt from American Apparel in September and, after pining for several weeks, finally ordered it in the 'Cc' version. I'm a closeted font freak and I love me some Helvetica - let me tell you, when I stumbled across this new addition to the AA site I literally squealed out loud. Like a five year-old at Christmas. With a pony in the living room.

When I wear my shirt out and about, around 99% of people don't get it. I'm asked about it all the time. And they still don't understand.

But for those who do, it's like a secret underground cult. And, as with all things AA, the shirt will magically shrink after washing to the size you were hoping it'd be.

There's also a feature-length 2007 indie film about Helvetica that coincided with the font's 50th birthday. It premiered at SXSW, which bums me out even more because I live in Austin. Sigh. Here's a synopsis:
Helvetica is a feature-length independent film about typography, graphic design and global visual culture. It looks at the proliferation of one typeface...as part of a larger conversation about the way type affects our lives. The film is an exploration of urban spaces in major cities and the type that inhabits them, and a fluid discussion with renowned designers about their work, the creative process, and the choices and aesthetics behind their use of type.
I've seen bits and pieces but still need to rent/buy the DVD. Thankfully, iTunes (after my pleading e-mail to them, thank you very much!) now carries the documentary flick. I know what I'll be spending part of my iTunes gift card on...

Let's watch the trailer.


smells like...meat?

Burger King has been making headlines again, this time for the release of its signature body spray, Flame by BK.

Sold for $3.99 exclusively at Ricky's in NYC, Flame is described as "the scent of seduction, with a hint of flame-broiled meat." The sure-t0-be pop culture phenomenon sold out almost immediately.

At first I was kind of turned off. It evoked the classic caveman image of "Me. Eat. Meat." with lots of gesticulating and chest-thumping. But, in true Crispin Porter+Bogusky fashion, there's a method to this madness. I'm not part of the target audience, so it doesn't matter whether I like it or not. Beef-eatin', heat-packin' manly-men probably love this idea. If anything, it makes one hell of a gag gift.

Those who aren't a part of BK's target market are most likely, at the very least, disgusted. So disgusted that they'll channel their outrage into attention-grabbing headlines. Google "bk flame" and you'll find over one million hits. This clearly isn't Crispin's first time around the block. Flame by BK has (surprise, surprise!) even become pervasive enough to be parodied by PETA.

What's more, Flame by BK could make a second appearance come Valentine's Day. Cupid's arrows may prove no match for that intoxicating aroma of flame-broiled beef.

Still not sated? Check out this clip from The Today Show...

whitney port does not a carrie bradshaw make

I'll be the first to admit that The Hills is one of my guilty pleasures. And that it used to actually be interesting. This past season I would watch it just to sharpen my sarcasm saw and shriek "are you kidding me?!" at the TV. All in good fun, really.

Until I saw this. The New York Post's Page Six dared ponder: Is Whitney Port the New Carrie Bradshaw?

If she is, I must be the Queen Mum. I'll be sure to let The Post know.

Out of the four Sex & the City girls, I've always related to (and loved) Carrie the most. So when I read the article, I think a little part of me died. She's an eloquent writer with equal amounts of optimism and sarcasm. And, of course, a fixation with fashion. Whitney? Not so much.

Here's The Posts's reasoning:
With The City's focus on friends, fashion, love life and nightlife—and with her caramel curls and joie de vivre—Whitney just might end up being NYC's new Carrie Bradshaw.
Don't get me wrong. Whitney was easily the most human-like character on The Hills. But after watching her never-before-seen initial interview at Teen Vogue with Lisa Love, I couldn't help but want to smack some sense into this poor girl. If you missed it, let's recap: Lisa Love asks Whitney who her favorite designers are, to which Whitney replies along the lines of "I don't have any."

But, as we all know, she got the internship anyway. True, Carrie also worked at Vogue. The real Vogue. If she had interviewed, she would have waxed poetically about Prada and Jimmy Choo for hours. Carrie would have rather been caught dead in a scrunchie and Candie's in Jersey than tell a Vogue editor she had no favorite designers.

It looks like Miss Port has some big Manolos to fill.