Macy’s American Icons window displays bear looking into.

Posted on July 6, 2014. Filed under: Doug Hovelson Photography, Minneapolis, Ramblings, Retail, Retail window displays, Twin Cities region | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

It’s time to update the world on what’s going on with Macy’s window displays at its big Nicollet Mall store in downtown Minneapolis. It’s the American Icons series, featuring Ralph Lauren apparel — and a host of references to other American icons such as the open road, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and mid-20th century America. These are windows well worth looking into — as I discovered while strolling the Mall, camera in hand, recently.

Macy's window display - Iconic

Styled All American look at Macy’s.

An all-American look at Macy's, complete with references to artist Jasper Johns and other

An all-American look at Macy’s, complete with references to artist Jasper Johns, as part of the American Icons series of window displays at the Macy’s Downtown Minneapolis store.

Macy's American Icon window display

The enduring appeal of denim, with artistic notations by Jasper Johns (the American flag), and a sign for Route 66 — America’s highway — for the American Icons series — it’s a series, after all — of window displays at the Macy’s Downtown Minneapolis store.

American flag is part of the American Icons - Ralph Lauren display at Macy's

Macy’s goes with the red white and blue theme for summer style promotion, in Macy’s Downtown Minneapolis store.


Denim is iconic style featured in Macy's window display.

Iconic America, with denim, at Macy’s Downtown Minneapolis store.

Sunglasses give cool look at Macy's

Sunglasses are so cool at Macy’s Downtown Minneapolis store this summer.

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A Fourth Of July Day In Downtown Minneapolis.

Posted on July 6, 2014. Filed under: Minneapolis, Ramblings, Twin Cities region | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

July 4 was a fine day for taking in the sights in downtown Minneapolis.

Mississippi River chugging along in downtown Minneapolis.

Swollen by recent heavy rains throughout the state, the Mississippi River was really chugging along on July 4. This view is from the St. Anthony Falls area, with the Hennepin Avenue Bridge in the background.



Let us do the pedaling, that's the credo of the pedi-cab drivers in downtown Minneapolis. Pedi-cabs are allowed to travel on Nicollet Mall - sharing the pavement with bicyclists, buses and pedestrians. The weather was fine for pedi-cab riding on July 4.

Let us do the pedaling, that’s the credo of the pedi-cab drivers in downtown Minneapolis. Pedi-cabs are allowed to travel on Nicollet Mall – sharing the pavement with bicyclists, buses and pedestrians. The skyway in the background is festooned with a banner promoting the upcoming Major League Baseball All Star Game at Target Field in Minneapolis. The weather was fine for pedi-cab riding on July 4.



Festive scene along Third Avenue Bridge in downtown Minneapolis on July 4.

The Third Avenue Bridge offers the best seats in town for the annual downtown Minneapolis fireworks show on July 4. People arrive early — very early — to stake out their turf on the bridge. The festive atmosphere brings out all kinds of food vendors. Ice cream treats are especially popular. Also spotted along the riverbank: a food wagon selling foot-long hotdogs.
The Third Avenue Bridge spans the Mississippi River between downtown and southeast Minneapolis. The bridge is not open to motor vehicle traffic any longer. But it was preserved by the city as a pedestrian bridge. It’s a great amenity to the city, with terrific views of historic St. Anthony Falls on the upriver side, and the University of Minnesota on the downriver side.



A man plays the trumpet on Nicollet Mall.

A lone trumpeter holds forth on Nicollet Mall on July 4. He was settled in on a bench across from the IDS Building.



Red white and blue logo for WCCO-TV on July 4.

WCCO-TV’s signal tower logo was decked out in red, white and blue colors in honor of Independence Day.




Downtown Minneapolis has a variety of faces.

Couple of guys on Nicollet Mall in costume.

You never know who you’re going to meet when you take a walk down Nicollet Mall. These two colorfully adorned guys were hanging down by the Loring Greenway on July 4. They hailed me as I walked by and asked if I’d take their picture – using their iPhone. I did, and then I took a photo of my own with my camera. I think they’d be pleased with the result. Nice guys.

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Windmills at rest

Posted on March 18, 2013. Filed under: Doug Hovelson Photography, Ramblings |

Iowa wind farm at dusk

Dusk settles over a wind farm in southwestern Iowa.

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Cruising The Mall

Posted on February 19, 2013. Filed under: Doug Hovelson Photography, Minneapolis, Public Relations, Ramblings, Retail window displays | Tags: , , , |

Highway and heavy way to cruise Nicollet Mall.

Construction vehicle on Nicollet Mall

Afternoon cruise on Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis

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At The End Of The Day, We Move Forward No More Forever

Posted on September 20, 2012. Filed under: Media Commentary, Ramblings, Sporting life, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

English: Don Mattingly in Dodgers dugout.

English: Don Mattingly in Dodgers dugout. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just two words of wisdom for today: Talk Normal*

Case in point:

“What I really want, at the end of the day, is to make sure we do the right thing for Clayton moving forward. I know we’ll do the right thing for him, so that’s not really a concern.” – Don Mattingly, Los Angeles Dodgers manager, speaking about injured pitcher Clayton Kershaw. (Quote from Sept. 18, 2012 Minneapolis Star Tribune, Sports, page C4)

Rewrite (just for our purposes):

“What I really want — and what this organization wants — is what’s best for Clayton.”

Editorial notes:

“Moving forward” – a transition phrase, perhaps once notable for being novel, it now sounds as empty of meaning as “awesome.” Delete with extreme prejudice. (See also: “going forward,” its equally obnoxious sibling.)

“At the end of the day” – what’s with this end of the day stuff? Do the cows come in at the end of the day? Of course they do. Was Rome built in a day? Of course not. Can we not get through one day without hearing someone, somewhere, in a position of somber authority, speaking of their earnest ambition to conclude something of a serious nature by the end of the bloody f’ing day???

No Offense Intended, Don

Sorry, Don Mattingly. I don’t mean to pick on you. I know you mean well. It’s just that, to see two such mindlessly over-used clichéd phrases in the same sentence, for God’s sake, it defies comprehension. It drew my attention, and I took a grammatical hack at it — somewhat like you used to have your fun battering a lazy down-the-middle fastball back in the day.

Editor’s note:

“Back in the day” – yadda, yadda, yadda, sounds like an early Jersey Boy phrase that went viral via some TV cop show outa New York and now passes for virile man-talk. Backinnaday ya know. Pack it in, back-in-the-day sayers. It’s lost most of the street smart cred that it had back in whatever day it slunk out of.

So, at the end of the day here, let’s quit embracing cliché-talk in our speech, okay?

Editor’s note:

“Embracing” — a psycho-babble-ish distortion of a perfectly good word — to embrace, to clasp in the arms. Now used with great unrestraint to show affinity, as in “she embraces the culture,” or “the author embraces the poor, the oppressed, the disenfranchised, the forgotten and the immoderate.” If those are the author’s people, so be it. Actually, it’s not so far-fetched to assume that a writer of the depths, such as a Dostoyevsky, actually does emotionally embrace the lives of some such as the Russian dispossessed, as he did with great feeling and insight. Not to banish non-physical/romantic references of embracing from the vocabulary, then, but to urge more judicious use of the word at minimum. (Note: no mention of being more judicious going forward!) Gandhi may well have embraced all of humanity. Most people have a hard enough time embracing close family members, much less the multitudinous masses. (No embracing on the job. That goes without saying.)

Well, then. That puts a period to the cliché problem for now.

* A nod to Tim Phillips, author of Talk Normal, Stop The Business Speak, Jargon and Waffle, published in 2011 by Kogan Page Limited, an excellent book in which the author argues that people are more effective when they just talk like normal people do.

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New McDonald’s In Town (Minneapolis)

Posted on September 7, 2012. Filed under: Public Relations, Ramblings, Retail, Society, Twin Cities region | Tags: , , |


New McDonald's opens on East Lake Street in Minneapolis - photo by Doug Hovelson

Spiffy new McDonald’s opens in Minneapolis

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Close Encounter With A Mac And Cheese Pizza Lover

Posted on August 24, 2012. Filed under: Doug Hovelson Photography, Minneapolis, Public Relations, Ramblings, Society | Tags: , , , , , |

Exterior of the Minneapolis Dinkytown McDonald's, where late-night dining can be enjoyed both indoors and outdoors.

A clean, well-lit place, McDonald’s Minneapolis Dinkytown restaurant, a popular place near the University of Minnesota campus.

Recently I was offered a taste of macaroni and cheese pizza.

It happened, oddly enough, at the Dinkytown McDonald’s, near the University of Minnesota East Bank campus in Minneapolis. Odd since pizza doesn’t appear on the menu at McDonald’s.

A young woman, nicely dressed in casual summer attire, seemingly benevolent, made the offer to me as I sat,  hunched over a laptop computer and bag of fries, in the late-night gloaming of the restaurant.

“Have you ever had macaroni and cheese pizza?” Startled, I looked up. There she stood,  soft drink in hand, smile on her face, awaiting my response.

“Never,” I said. “I didn’t even know such a thing existed.”

“You have to try it. It’s great!” she gushed.

Sounds barbaric, I thought to myself. What I said was, “It sounds pretty good.”

“It’s so good!” she said.

Maybe she’s right, I thought. Macaroni and cheese, still within the pasta family after all.

But mac ‘n cheese. On pizza. Well, why not? At least it wasn’t something like carmel corn and anchovies.

Could be a joke, I thought. No harm done if it was, but maybe she was just joshing me. Didn’t seem like it though.

My interloper radiated nothing but good will. She obviously wanted to share her knowledge about the special delights of mac ‘n cheese pizza with me, a guy some few decades older – wiser? It’s debatable — than her. Sitting by himself. Late at night. In a solitary booth in a McDonald’s in the middle of a big city. Gazing intensely at a glowing computer screen. Whooaaa!

Maybe she thought I was friendless and bereft. Or a philosophy professor searching out clues to the universe online.

But it wasn’t to be.

Nice as she was, she couldn’t induce me to head off down the street for a slice. I wasn’t hungry, for one thing. She might have been slightly tipsy, too – which could explain her enthusiasm for sharing her food tips with strangers. It was getting nigh on to midnight. A time when a lot of the college kids take a break from the nearby club scene to drop into McDonald’s to recharge.

My young food confidante now settled into the booth just behind me, joining her two friends. Then she called my attention to the slice of pizza plopped on a paper plate on the table before her. Macaroni and cheese topped pizza it was, unmistakably. “See?” she said, stabbing a wayward finger toward the plate. “Doesn’t it look good! You have to try some. Oh, if I just had a knife I’d cut you a piece so you could try it!”

Fearing for her good mood – she seemed on the verge of turning crestfallen — I hurried to make things right.

“That’s okay,” I assured her. “You don’t have to do that. It’s your pizza. You eat it.”

Did my brow furrow over as I now studied the improbable scene? I don’t know. I wasn’t looking into a mirror after all. All I saw was the pizza, the three young women, one looking at me expectantly, the other two kind of peering at me anxiously, probably hoping their friend hadn’t recklessly engaged with a werewolf.

“Hmmm,” said I, eyeballing the cheese-sodden slice admiringly. “It does look good.”

“You have to try it,” my newfound foodie friend implored. “It only costs about $3 a slice at Mesa.”

Mesa, it turns out, is Mesa Pizza Dinkytown (open well into the early morning hours most nights), located just down the street from the McDonald’s.

“I’ll give it a try the next time I want pizza,” I assured her.

Satisfied, she turned back to her friends and the task at hand of devouring the pizza. I settled back in with the computer – was I really writing, or was I actually looking up the baseball scores on ESPN.com? I forget — wondering at the wonder of it all.

Mac ‘n cheese pizza. Not the worst idea of all time, surely. Maybe a traditional favorite in, say, Palermo or Naples. Ha ha, I laughed to myself. An exuberant young woman interrupting my commune with cyberspace to urge me on to give mac ‘n cheese pizza a chance. What a hoot!

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Mary Tyler Moore Stands Tall On The Mall

Posted on July 15, 2012. Filed under: Doug Hovelson Photography, Minneapolis, Ramblings | Tags: , , , |

Mary Tyler Moore statue on the Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis, © Doug Hovelson 2012

Mary Tyler Moore, goddess of smiles.

No need to worry about anybody clamoring to take down Mary Tyler Moore’s statue on the Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. She’s as exuberant as ever, although a bit over-dressed for a hot July day. If only Joe Paterno would have learned that everything you need to know in life you could of learned from the Mary Tyler Moore Show.

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If Only The Dead Knew Facebook

Posted on May 24, 2012. Filed under: Digital Dalliances, Public Relations, Ramblings, Social Media, Society, Sporting life | Tags: , |

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I come from a long line of dead people,” novelist Lawrence Block observed via one of his tough-guy detective characters.

No truer words were ever spoken. So far as we know, no person to date has ever lived forever. Candidates are out there – baseball slugger Ted Williams was famously put on cryogenic ice post-mortem, with the hope that science could someday get Teddy Ballgame back into the game of life. And why not. Teddy enjoyed life, loved fishing and if anything can make a person want to live forever, it’s fishing. Better than sex, or at least longer-lasting, plus it’s legal to practice in public.

Forgotten Even By Their Kinfolks

Now I don’t know how all those dead people throughout history, so many of them unsung and totally unknown today — even by their living kin — felt about living lives of ultimate obscurity. Quite possibly, most of them never gave it much thought. For all the Julius Caesars, Cleopatras and Charlemagnes of history, there were millions – nay, billions – more who never achieved much more recognition than an ant.

Would that have changed if Facebook had been around in ancient Roman times? What would those Facebook pages have been like – would the people, the men and women in the Roman street, have been so diligent in posting the daily details of their private lives into the public databanks of Facebook I? One can only speculate. And if so, what would they have said?

Heard On The Ancient Roman Street

“Giancarlo is off fighting the Goths on the northern front today. Lions mauled the Christians today in the Colosseum. What a spectacular finish by Mario in the featured chariot race last night. Luigi’s is having a special on clams today. Ran into Ovid on the Appian Way this morning, he was out for his usual morning jog…we chatted about the weather – too hot! — and the inflation rate — too high! My tooth aches this morning. Anybody know any good dentists in south Rome? Saw Brutus at Alfonso’s Sporting Goods store this afternoon – he was checking out knives. Here’s a picture of me and my family at our barbecue last weekend, it was finger-lickin’ good. I hear there’s an orgy tonight at the Campesino Club, who else is planning to attend? How about them Lions? I like Rafael’s House of Furniture. We’re taking our vacation on the Riviera this year, we leave next week. Am I the only one who wishes that Cicero would shut his mouth? Anybody know any good restaurants in Naples? I’ve got to go there for business next week. Avoid walking near the Tiber downtown – it really stinks this time of year.”

And so forth.

That Was Then, This Is The Now Of Facebook

Fast forward 2,000 years, to a time and place – well, any place since we live in such a globally connected world today — and the citizenry, well, the citizenry is chitter-chattering away all over the Internet. Facebook. Twitter. Tumbl’r. Pinterest. WordPress. YouTube. It’s a communicative cornucopia, a frenzy of engagement of epic proportions. Digital dynasties emerge overnight – Pinterest, for God’s sake? Where was Pinterest five years ago? Big Data is on the rise. (Lesser data, such as newspapers, are crumbling into oblivion however.) Lady Gaga is more famous than Cleopatra, Walter Winchell has been replaced by TMZ and hardly anyone reads Ovid anymore.

But the people of the Facebook street, a billion or so strong, they are making up for humanity’s time lost in historical obscurity. Just think, 2,000 years from now, assuming the robot class hasn’t assumed dominance over the clamoring masses, people of that time will likely be plumbing the digital archives of the early years of the Third Millennium for clues into what life was like for the 21st century ancients. What a wealth of data they will have to draw upon, assuming they’re interested. Who knows? By then, history might really have ended for all time, replaced by what we know not – since we who live today belong to a specific historical period. Perhaps Teddy Ballgame will re-emerge from the cryogenic crypt to instruct the 41st century masses in the fine art of whacking a baseball.

So the next time you go to tell your Facebook followers what’s on your mind, just remember: you’re teeing it up for history. You just might want to keep that 41st century savant in mind.

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Call For Citizen Proofreaders

Posted on May 4, 2012. Filed under: Public Relations, Ramblings | Tags: , , |


News (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A reader of the St Paul Pioneer Press asks online today, “Do newspapers do any proofreading anymore?”

My answer to him: newspapers today rely on readers like you to do their proofreading for them.

To that end it would do well for all readers everywhere to get copies of the Associated Press Stylebook — also available by subscription online at AP Stylebook Online — and The Chicago Manual of Style (online at Chicago Manual of Style). Study both diligently, commit vast portions of both to memory, and then do your jobs, readers of the world and proofread those newspaper stories and blogs! Do your work well, despite the low pay — well, no pay. Just consider yourselves citizen proofreaders. Doing your part to make for a more literate Internet.

Now get to it, youse proofers youse!

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No Lovin’ Feeling In Duluth

Posted on February 9, 2012. Filed under: Public Relations, Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Middletown, Duluth, Minnesota, Lake Superior

Port o' Call Duluth Image via Wikipedia

On the Northern Front: An uncouth moment for Duluth. City is one of the five worst in the country for romance, according to social network Foursquare, reported by NorthlandsNewsCenter Lovelorn In Duluth.

Makes no sense. Duluth is considered by some to be the San Francisco of the North Country, what with its hilly views of Lake Superior and storied history as a major inland port.

Cool City, Duluth

Truth be known, it’s a cool city. Nicknamed the “Air-Conditioned City,” in fact. Cool in the summer, wicked cold in the winter.

Hershey might want to send the mayor a big bag of chocolate Kisses this Valentine’s Day. Oh, and the most romantic city in America is Lake Buena Vista, Fla., according to Foursquare. Maybe so. Love in the city of eternal childhood — it’s the home of Walt Disney World.

So maybe Duluth needs to jazz itself up a bit. Some movement in that direction today, as a proposal surfaces at the state capital to build a new Minnesota Vikings football stadium in Duluth. Not even Eli Manning could pull that one off. What Duluth lacks in romance it makes up for with sheer gritty Iron Range fueled chutzpah.

Put Down That Can Of Soda Pop

Sin never sleeps – (interesting soda pop now cast as a sin product. Will the BATF get involved? Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Soda Pop (BATFSP. Try putting that in your pipe and smoking it.) – a Tweet find courtesy of @moorehn favorited @WealthWatch:Oh, sin! Why are you so profitable?!?! Soda and Smoke Stocks Pay Off for Investors – Video bloom.bg/xAJPbo
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Down With Risk; No Blood, No Late-Night Radio Foul

Posted on February 13, 2011. Filed under: Media Commentary, Public Relations, Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Lehman Brothers Rockefeller centre, via Wikipedia

Lehman Brothers Rockefeller Center

The Weekend Report:

Writing in The Wall Street Journal Weekend, Jason Zweig has a rip roaring good time poking holes in the latest work of investment wisdom from James K. Glassman. It was Glassman who co-penned the notorious “Dow 36,000” book, published in 1999 or not long before the start of one of the most dismal decades for investing ever. “Extremely exuberant” is a mild way to put Glassman’s 1999 view on stock investing.

It was Glassman who said that stocks are not risky then — and he apparently still holds to that view. Zweig quotes him as saying, “The data [still] show that stocks aren’t risky.” Although he’s now hedging his bets a bit more.

Lost In Space?

Say what, Mr. Glassman? What’s the name of this alternative universe that you inhabit, Mr. Glassman? Were you there, on planet Earth, in September 2008 when the stock markets collapsed in the wake of the Lehman Brothers bust? Stocks went down down down. Sure, the short-sellers — making book on stock market risk — were happy. But most investors, some perhaps still clinging to their copies of “Dow 36,000”, lost big-time. If they had money in, say, Countrywide Financial, Wachovia, General Motors, Colonial Bank, the names go on and on, they lost almost everything. No risk there?

Stocks in general have bounced back since then. But not all, many still trade well below their 2008 highs, and many were burnt to a crisp in the meltdown. People who bought into those stocks may view the market with a bit more jaded focus on the risk factor.

“Safety Net” is the name of Mr. Glassman’s new book, and Zweig gives him his due — noting that Glassman has written those three little words that financial gurus most abhor: “I was wrong,” But not so wrong about the risk of stocks? Maybe in theory, stocks should be a no-lose investment. Countries shouldn’t fight among themselves either, theoretically speaking.

Reading Has Its Own Risks

Zweig also tells of a new book written by Howard Marks, chairman of Oaktree Capital Management. “The Most Important Thing,” Mr. Marks’s forthcoming tome, is a “superb” book that helps explain risk clearly, Zweig writes. Sounds like a winner to me, although I’ll have to wait until I’ve actually read it to say for sure.

One thing’s for sure. I would approach anything written by Mr. Glassman with my risk evaluation attenae on high alert.

Nice Guys Live On — On Late-Night Radio

Meanwhile this radio guy does a talk show out of Boston, he’s got this doctor for a guest on his late-night show. Seems that the Doc has taken to writing about a historical family figure – a relative from the 19th century who put on trial for killing someone, perhaps a paramour or husband, who knows? I’m only paying attention to the show between loading up the clothes washer and taking out the garbage.

Anyway, the aforesaid Doc, in the course of the interview, allows as to how his relative, a female who was a loose woman by 19th century standards, was almost certainly guilt of the crime of murder. But he opines that the jury declined to find her guilty, not so much because she wasn’t the culprit, but because the state was just then starting to offer up electric chair executions. This new-fangled style of putting people to death was seen by many as being perhaps a more painful way of dying than, say, the tried-and-true method of hanging or firing squad.

Being considerate people, the jury let the accused off, said the Doc, in spite of the fact that she was in all likelihood guilty as charged – and the prosecution had proved it.

And so, our late-night host comes right back with the assertion that “well they couldn’t prove that she was guilty…” blah blah blah. Indicating his willingness to cut the lady in question, now long dead but obviously a woman of some spirit, a break. This despite the Doc’s own assertion that the lady was guilty, the jury most likely knew it, but didn’t want to send a poor woman to what was probably an unduly painful death. My takeaway was that the host was bending over backwards to make the guest feel appreciated — so much so that he failed to acknowledge what the guest had just said. It was as if he didn’t hear what his guest had just said, which is no way to treat a guest.

Crime Yes, Punishment, No

All of which made me think, well, this late-night radio guy, a nice guy from the sounds of it and a very personable chap, probably goes overboard in his efforts to not cause his guests to feel distressed by his questioning. No Porfiry Petrovitch, our radio man is charged instead with providing a pleasant listening experience for his stressed out late-night audience.

America’s a big place. More than 300 million people live here, which means there are more than 300 million stories to tell in this naked country alone. So why would radio hosts worry about having enough guests to fill out their air time?

So many stories, but people are not equally adept at telling their stories. Many people tend to stagger through their narratives, saying too much or — what’s even worse from the interviewer’s perspective — saying too little. They often over-explain, only natural for conscientious people who want to be sure their listeners understand what they’re saying, and end up boring the listeners to death — perhaps more than once. And as we all know, nothing kills talk radio so quickly as boring on-air talkers.

Talking points. That’s my advice to would-be stars of the talk-radio world. Work on your talking points. On radio, as in real-life occurrences such as when the cop stops you for speeding, it’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. Pre-conceived talking points can get you through almost any situation. Another way of saying it, one that we all learned in our high school days when we were called in to face the music by the school principal, is the old “let’s get our story straight” imperative.

Late-night talk show hosts have it tougher than most, though. For one, there’s the time barrier — not that many people with productive day time jobs are up and talking coherently in the middle of the night on a regular basis. They need their go-to regulars. And the regulars would be scared off if the host came on like the relentless interrogator Porfiry, who so mercilessly bedevilled Raskolnikov in Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment.

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Haste A-Pace

Posted on January 17, 2011. Filed under: Politics and Punditry, Public Relations, Ramblings | Tags: , , |

Sedan chair carried by two people

Sedan Chair, Image via Wikipedia

“Make haste slowly.”

Said to be coined by Augustus, the Roman emperor who succeeded Julius Caesar.

Excellent bumper sticker material (or something to stick on the side of a sedan chair, a favorite conveyance of the Roman well-to-do back in the day), and often quoted by poets, philosophers and other pundits living and dead.

Excellent advice, when you think about it.

Act fast, but not so fast as to lose your head, shoot yourself in the foot, do something stupid you’ll regret, rush to judgment, run off the rails, plunge off a cliff, etc.

I like it.

I like it more than that equally inarguable old saw, beloved by mothers everywhere, “haste makes waste.”

Make haste slowly sounds much more like something I could use when starting, say, a new high impact project for a client. Especially if said project has a lot of moving parts to it which must be assembled under heavy deadline pressure.

Just something to think about in these emotionally charged times.

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Is Financial Ruin The Cure?

Posted on July 7, 2010. Filed under: Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Lake Calhoun, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Image via Wikipedia


Fresh from a fine walk around one of the fabulous urban lakes of Minneapolis – Lake Calhoun, in this case (pictured above) – on a glorious evening to be outdoors, and then along comes this depressing piece of opinion from David Stockman, ex-Blackstonian, former golden boy turned whipping boy of the era of Reaganomics and now sending the signal that the new age of economic austerity and consolidation is dawning. And that we the people, along with assorted governmental bigwigs, irrational optimists and media blowhards, don’t have a clue.

Harsh medicine to come, if Stockman’s right about a massive second shoe – a shoe constructed of iron and embedded in cement – that’s about to crash, a la 1932, onto the global economy.

I do know this – fear sells today. It always has – whip up some healthy paranoia and all that to get people’s attention. But this is getting to be out of all proportions.

News You Can Grit Your Teeth To

Tuning into the economic news of the day is like getting a daily assault from weasels intent on ripping your flesh from your face (credit Frank Zappa’s album Weasels Ripped My Flesh! for that thought).

The cure? I don’t know – hopefully it’s not akin to what a Martin Amis character says about health worries (to paraphrase), “I didn’t want to worry about my health, so I ruined it.”

I for one don’t see a future in financial ruin.

Here’s the link to the Stockman piece:


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What’s In The Daily Newspaper? Does Anybody Know?

Posted on January 8, 2010. Filed under: Public Relations, Ramblings |

It’s not news that newspapers are losing readership. You’d think the PR community would be the last reader bloc to go.

Maybe not.

A friend of mine, a well-respected member of the Twin Cities PR community, recently made the society pages of a Sunday issue of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (circulation around 600,000) in a big way. She was prominently featured in a photo from a major cultural event.

Sad to say, she didn’t see the photo until someone noticed it for her. Sounds like she skipped the print version of the paper that day.

I’m not knocking her or her Sunday reading habits. It’s just one more indication of how much ground newspapers have lost with the public. Now if there’s a bright side to this story, it’s that the opportunity for PR people is to work with what the world gives them. The value of a newspaper placement — they still employ real journalists, for heaven’s sake, who know what news is for the most part! — today lies in what the enterprising PR professional can do with it to help make it bigger news. Tweet it up! Talk it up on Facebook! Link to it on your client’s website. In short, be a publicist for the news that’s in the newspaper.

On a recent NCIS TV show, one of the investigators was complaining bitterly about having to wade through the digital swamps as she sought out news on the Internet. Jethro — the Mark Harmon character who captain’s the investigative crew — overheard and laid a fresh copy of the day’s newspaper on her desk. There it was, he indicated – the perfect news package, all wrapped up and begging to be read without the bothersome distraction of the Internet. It was a revelation to his young investigator.

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Narrow Escape From The Shack

Posted on February 16, 2009. Filed under: Ramblings |

Customer service.

We all hate it. (Not the service, the lack thereof.)

So yesterday, Saturday, I’m prowling around a Radio Shack outlet. Just kind of browsing, indulging my inner geek a bit I guess. And I’m checking out the telephones on sale – I need a new business level phone, one that has the buttons you push to end a call and make a new one. So I can make rapid fire calls. That kind of phone. But most of the phones are equipped with digital answering machines, I don’t need that. And they seem mostly aimed at consumer interests, including the ones with huge buttons for elderly eyes. (Probably good for alcohol-bleared eyes as well.) Long story short, I’m about to go check out the NASCAR racing action on the LED TVs going in the store when I see this pamphlet for a telephone service called MagicJack. Hey, it’s been seen on TV according to the brochure, something that obviously confers instant credibility upon the product. I mean, they wouldn’t let them show this on TV unless it was good, would they?

Seems like MagicJack gives you instant access to a telephone number that you can use anywhere in the country for local and long distance calls. For $40, the service and telephone number included. That’s $40 for a year’s worth of telephoning, no other charges. Sounds too good to be true, me says.

“Sounds too good to be true,” says I to the young guy at the cash register who’s correctly observed that I’m clutching the brochure with one hand while proferring a package of telephone line connectors to him with the other one. (The connectors seem useful, like something that could be used to test automotive circuits as well as connecting telephone lines somehow.)

It’s a great device, says the salesman. It really works, he swears. They can’t keep them in stock, says he. People love them, some buy five at a time for their entire family to use. All you need is a broadband connection and you’ve got a new telephone line, he says.

“Easy as 1-2-3, to save up to $1,000 a year!” exclaims the brochure.

“Well, uh, for $40 it might be worth a try,” I allow.

“You can always return it if it doesn’t work,” he says, closing the deal.

“Right,” I say. “I’ll take it too.”

“Hey, what about your wireless service?” he asks. “Who do you use?”

“I just switched to Verizon,” answers I.

My previous wireless provider just dropped their service and urged us subscribers to roll over to Verizon, which they are now reselling. Well I did get the Verizon service, but only after checking out other services as well. But since I hadn’t actually activated the Verizon service, not yet, there was a chance I could still switch to someone else if they offered a better deal.

A better deal. Radio Shack was bursting with great telephone deals in the estimation of this energetic young salesman. Just take this Boost Mobile deal. $50 per month and all the telephone service you could want, with no long-term contract!

“Ha,” I says. “Let me see.” So he takes me over to the Boost Mobile display, and while I’m gingerly checking it out he gets asked a question by another customer. “Go ahead and help her,” I says.

That’s my break! I grab a brochure and call out to him, “I’ll check this out and come back later!”

Whew. One too-good-to-be-true deal per store visit!

But that sales guy, he was good – sharp and aggressive without seeming to be too pushy. Kind of refreshing actually. And it happened in a Radio Shack of all places. A bastion of customer service! (Actually I’ve mostly always had good luck with customer service at Radio Shack.)

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All the data fit to scan

Posted on January 28, 2008. Filed under: Ramblings |

Cisco says they’ve got a network piece that can copy all the searchable data on the internet in 7.5 seconds or something like that. How about that for a global brain scan? Seems like the CIA and NSA and FBI would be their first customers, along with of course the big telecoms. It staggers the mind to think about how much money this rogue trader at Soc Gen burnt; I remember when I was in NY a friend of mine lost $30,000 on a bad keystroke one day for a bank he worked for. There must be some better way to detect human error and fallibility among these banks or the financial world’s in more trouble than you think. Al Qaeda could destroy the international banking system with a few well-placed banking operatives

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Party Time 1929-style

Posted on January 17, 2008. Filed under: Ramblings | Tags: , |

Time to party like it’s 1929.

Are we ready for depression-era fun?

Remembrance of recessions past…what worked? I seem to recall one strategy that worked was to keep your head down and work like your life depended on it. Amazing how a little economic pain focuses the mind.

 The early 80s, one marketing allure was depression-chic. Cheap chic, it rears its head from time to time. Has a certain youth appeal. People don’t want to spend their youth in drudgery.

When the going gets tough, I go to the bookstore.

I’m more of a fiction fan; is this escapist? I don’t know. Reading other people’s thoughts on the human condition — oh ye Gods that sounds so 1920s! — helps put it all in perspective for me.

I, like Vladimir Putin, have no sense of humor.

Some of my own suggested books to read for hard times (Dickens’ Hard Times itself not a bad start).

John dos Passos’ The 42nd Parallel trilogy.

Studs Lonigan, James T. Farrell’s often-overlooked classic.

Anything by Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment being an excellent choice. 

Berlin Alexanderplatz, the book. Not so much the German made-for-TV mega-series.

Joyce Carol Oates, What I Lived For.

The Siege, a novel of the Eastern Front 1942, by Russ Schneider. If reading this book doesn’t help steel your soul against feeling sorry for yourself nothing will.

On the non-fiction side, Manias, Panics, and Crashes, A History of Financial Crises, by Charles Kindleberger and Robert Aliber, is what I’ve been reading of late. To quote, “A crash is a collapse of the prices of assets, or perhaps the failure of an important firm or bank. A panic, ‘a sudden fright without cause,’ (from the God Pan, known for causing terror), may occur in asset markets or involve a rush from less liquid securities to money or government securities — in the belief that governments do not go bankrupt because they can always print more money.”

Or in our modern age, maybe it’s the belief that the OPEC nations can always crank up the oil spigot?

Or you could just go shopping and help prop up the economy.

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Who’s This? « Doug Hovelson Weblog

Posted on December 28, 2007. Filed under: Ramblings |

Who’s This? « Doug Hovelson Weblog

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