Taking the Love Out of Valentine’s Day

Cupid, best known as the God of desire, attraction and affection has been branded as Valentine's Day favorite messenger.

The giving and receiving of sweet words to fellow classmates happened but once a year — Valentine’s Day. As a kid in elementary school I loved the concept of Cupid, and hoped my arrow would land on my beloved for that year.

I couldn’t wait to painstakingly review my choices of Valentine’s Day cards from the box. Once all were chosen, each was carefully slipped into their little envelope which I carefully addressed in my neatest handwriting. Every classmate received a card, but my best friend received what I considered to be my favorite Valentine card. Then, of course, I couldn’t wait to select the best Valentine card to give my favorite crush.

That’s the time when being young and naive is allowed, heck encouraged … and treasured. But, life has a way of breaking hearts, and life’s harsh realities crash on top of you like waves during a violent storm. So much for boxed concepts of everlasting love and bliss.

If you scratch a little deeper into Cupid’s heart of love you’ll find duplicity — a heart of darkness, otherwise known as inevitability. But whatever word choice you’re comfortable using, the fact is Cupid’s ultimate message isn’t always light and airy. And, it’s under that cloak which has caused the emergence of Love Contracts … in order to pre-empt heartbreak when traveling down the road of relationships.

Really? Who enters into marriage — which is a contract — in today’s world using elementary school concepts of love, besides me? Isn’t that what prenuptial agreements were all about … to be prudent, no?

Sort of, I guess, but those agreements included property and monetary rights in the event a marriage ends in divorce. Love contracts are additional prudent forecasting methods now needed — because they cover behavior and expectations, better known as … lifestyle clauses.

Love contracts dictate a list of do’s and don’ts, and will’s and wont’s between the two parties. Doesn’t sound like much of a party to me; but, remember, I’ve been wrong before. These non-romantic clauses cover everything from weight gain, frequency of sex, date nights, vacation criteria, infidelity, house chores … and on, and on — depending upon what issues would be deal breakers in one’s relationship.

Today, in the United States, upwards of 50% of first marriages and 60% of second marriages end in divorce. While the reasons are many, indeed, I was under the impression “for better or worse” was “The” contractural sentence used in order to cast the widest possible net which included monetary, lifestyle and health woes. Then again, I’m not a lawyer, so apparently, I was wrong.

Is the croupier today's Cupid?

Something’s wrong all right, and I don’t think it’s me. I heard of covering your bets, but marriage was never a sure thing any more than placing all your chips on Red 32. When the ball lands on another number, what does the croupier do? We all know that answer, I guess the question today is what does the lawyer do?

So, as I see it, the question that needs to be asked isn’t, “Will you marry me?” it’s “Are you willing to ‘Bet the House’ on me?”

I just went through a box of Valentine cards, and Cupid’s arrow just shot me. One reads, “Love is roulette — xoxo”

Looks Like Oprah Got Owned

Unless you were living under a rock you were aware of the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) 8-part reality series covering the ups and downs of Lindsay Lohan.

The title for the OWN series should have been: Lindsay, the Art of Manipulation.

On OWNs website, they describe the series as, “The highly anticipated OWN documentary series Lindsay, directed by Emmy-nominated filmmaker Amy Rice (By the People: The Election of Barack Obama), follows movie star and media sensation Lindsay Lohan on her journey through recovery following a very public period of crisis.”

Today what passes for a movie star is somewhat embarrassing. However, in Lohan’s case, I would concede to a description of her as a celebrity . . . are the bookers for Dancing With the Stars listening? But, I do agree with media sensation as a legitimate description because that’s what Lohan has become . . . a sensation – a widespread reaction of interest.

A person who was given all the opportunity and benefit of all doubts, a person who has unfortunately become an addict, a person who has mocked the legal system as she pushed the envelope of reason and patience. A person who has been less than honest and up-standing.

That’s the person who was given an 8-week high-five. I did not – emphasis, did not – want to watch this unfolding train wreck, but I derailed, and I wasn’t surprised or disappointed. Let’s just say I was disgusted.

Sadly, what I thought is what I expected . . . and what I got. Lohan did her Lindsay-thang from day one. Often failing to meet her obligations for filming, appearances, interviews, appointments, and photo shoots on time.

Oh! sure, there were excuses upon excuses, after all Lindsay is so important. Nobody’s schedule for laying around in bed is as important. Nobody’s stress level is as important, either. As a matter of fact, nobody is as important – period. But her antics even tweaked the Goddess Oprah, who traveled to New York in order to have a mano-a-mano, come-to-Jesus meeting with Lohan. I only wish Oprah would have pulled the plug on the fiasco of a production as she hinted she was willing to do on her way to the “meeting.”

I did not dedicate my precious Sunday’s to watching Lindsay, rather I opted for stints of binge viewing. That’s the only way I could stomach the deft manipulation Lohan meted out to those who actually were giving her yet another chance.

The viewers weren’t treated to a positive journey of recovery, as promised by OWN. Instead, sadly, we were mistreated to weird, self-engrandisement where the only thing we learned was, “We were had. We, too, were owned.”

The good news for me is the series is over.

The good news-bad news scenario for Oprah is the series was watched, and there was lots of media buzz surrounding the series; but I’m not sure if Oprah knew the level of the con. Oprah hasn’t carefully built her reputation over many years to be publically punk’d.

The good news-bad news scenario for Lindsay Lohan is the series furthered her exposure.

I’m sure the spinmeisters for Oprah are doing their level best to define the series as a failed experiment, but a success nonetheless . . . anything other than what it actually became; you see, OWN has to make lemonade out of lemons.

And, I’m also sure Lohan’s camp has released their spinmeisters – Lindsay being Handler Number 1, because nobody can spin anything as well, or better, that’s for sure.

But, who was speaking for the viewers, though . . . Dr. Seuss, where was the Lorax when we needed him?

The word which comes to mind to describe Lohan is narcissistic – grandiose sense of self-importance, a preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.

And . . . to my points: Upon negative reviews of her unprofessional, strange, ongoing rude behavior the Handler Number 1, Spinmeister, Narcissist Lohan has announced the reason why she didn’t film for two weeks – drum roll please . . . she suffered a miscarriage.

That about sums things up – enough said.

 

To Tell the Truth-ish

During the span of 1956 through 1968, Bud Collyer was the host of To Tell the Truth during its original reign on the idiot box.

The television game show’s concept was artfully simple: The host read aloud a signed affidavit about the real contestant. Four celebrity panelists asked a series of questions. The real contestant was sworn to tell the truth, while the other two imposters were encouraged to answer as though they were the real character in order to sway the panelists. The more votes the imposters received, the more prize money they were awarded.

After each panelist voted and explained who they felt the real character was, the host boomed this famous line, “Will the real xxxx please stand up . . .” and the three contestants made believe each would stand. Finally, only the real person did indeed stand up. Applause followed, and the host asked the remaining two to introduce themselves.

Good, clean, harmless television.

Frank Abagnale, Jr., made famous by Steven Spielberg’s movie, Catch Me If You Can, did a stint on the iconic show in 1977. Joe Garagiola, the show’s third host, described Abagnale as the “world’s greatest imposter” – posing as a doctor, lawyer, college instructor, stock broker and airline pilot.

Aired until 2001, To Tell the Truth was a true original. It made a lasting impact on the television format of panel shows, and made for many memorable images.

But memorable images and the “world’s greatest imposter” aren’t only reserved for television shows and audiences. Truth be told, we experience the greatest imposters of the world through nature. And lucky for us, the wonders of nature thrives all around each and every one . . . all we have to do is look and admire. @PurfectAdogable posted a tweet and image which looks remarkably like Easter Peeps sitting snugly in snow, and it brought To Tell the Truth flying back into my mind.

The affidavit follows:

During winter, this bird camouflages itself snowy white in order to provide the cover it needs to hide from their predators – which include hawks, eagles, falcons, owls, and foxes, Oh!, my. Easily confused by its prey for marshmallow Peeps, it stays warm in winter by burrowing down in large snowdrifts . . .

“Will the real Ptarmigan please stand up . . .”

This could be a Highlights Hidden Picture® puzzle. Find the camouflaged Peeps, snow chickens and Ptarmigans in the mounds of snowdrifts it burrows in to stay warm and fend off its prey. Thanks @PurfectAdogable

Look Who’s Talkin’ in 1976

The year was 1976, and one of the most memorable lines from a movie made it’s way into our pop culture.

On February 8, Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver was released. It starred Robert DeNiro as Travis Bickle, an ex-marine who lashed out with his uneasy brand of murder and carnage.

Portraying such an unstable character left us all uncomfortable. So much so that AFIs 100 Years . . . 100 Movie Quotes has ranked Bickle’s eery statement, ” You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? Then who the hell else are you talking . . . you talking to me? Well, I’m the only one here . . .” as the tenth most memorable movie quote.

Just rewinding that scene in my head gives me the creeps.

Ahhhh, but another renowned film made its way to the big screen that same year.

Nine months later, on November 21, Sylvester Stallone gave birth to, and introduced Rocky to the world. Rocky Balboa was a small-time boxer who got the chance of a lifetime opportunity . . . to fight Apollo Creed, the heavyweight champion.

Apollo mimicked the boxing landscape of that era with poetic taunting, media coverage, costuming akin to entertainment wrestling, and grand entrances. And so, when Apollo entered the arena in a patriotic float, the crowd went wild. As Apollo entered the ring he proceeded to taunt Rocky, pointing a hand-held American flag toward the underdog hopeful.

Apollo: I want you! you!
Rocky
(to Mickey): Is he talkin’ to me?
Mickey
: He is.
Rocky
: Is he talkin’ to me?
Mickey: Let him talk.

And so it began. Rocky made its way into our pop culture.

I guess people were confused with who was talking to whom in 1976 . . . at least that’s what the movies seemed to want us to think. But, although Rocky isn’t credited with the famous “talkin’ to me” line, it did enter our lexicon with another.

While Adrienne is listed as a popular first name for a baby girl; number 394 out of 4,276; AFIs 100 Years . . . 100 Movie Quotes has ranked the memorable, knock-out quote – yes, this time credited to Rocky – at number 80:

” Yo, Adrienne.”

Where is Flick?

It’s now a casual given to add the suffix “gate” to scandals involving government.

The most recent debacle involves Gov. Christie (NJ), whose administration allegedly knew of lane closures exiting New Jersey and entering New York via the George Washington Bridge . . . now known as Bridge-gate.

Something kind of sick about that alleged dirty trick – you know using the George Washington Bridge – which borrows the name of our first president, synonomous with above-reproach and honor . . . you know, the cherry tree, and “I cannot tell a lie” George.

I wonder . . . can any of Washington’s descendants sue?

Anyway, the George Washington Bridge is one of the most heavily used bridges in the world. Did you just read that – In the world. The bridge is a major roadway which supports commuters from New York and New Jersey, as well as a crucial roadway for truckers driving on the Boston I-95 corridor.

The “gate” revolves around the purposeful lane closures which made drivers merge into one long lane to get through the toll area before they could continue on their frustrated way.

It's time to call government misdeeds what they really are. Not the cheeky suffix "gate," but abuse.

Well, I really have to take issue at this point. You see, the regular folk, you know . . . us-ins, are constantly forced unwillingly to merge into lanes.

Just go to a bank, grocery store, big-box store, or think about your most recent experience trying to navigate through phone prompts – the thought of that scenario gives me chills up and down my spine. We’re always backed up in a queue if we don’t want to use self-service technology.

We’re penalized for actually wanting to rely on a check-out person, toll-taker to ferret us through traffic, a customer-service person to answer a question, or simply listen to our issue.

So, although Bridge-gate is a major issue it doesn’t phase me anymore. I mean there’s been such an overreach and plethora of gate-isms. One can almost visualize journalists licking their collective chops just waiting to hoist that suffix onto anything which smacks of governmental misdeeds.

But, are we really surprised and appalled with political dirty tricks, misuse of taxpayer funds, scandals, lines at government offices, or the “Do as I say, not as I do” modus operandi?

Us-ins are seemingly programmed and subjected to mindless, route conformity packaged as helping, or necessary in order to speed up a particular process.

It’s real comforting that journalists are looking after the minions by defining another gotcha debacle, but adding gate onto the ever-growing pile of gates isn’t exactly changing the herding we’re faced with each and every day.

I don’t know, I believe people will put up with only so much – just look at what happened in 1989 with the fall of the Soviet Union, most recently across the Middle East, and now with Ukraine.

It’s time to apply the appropriate suffix because gate doesn’t cut it anymore. Why not just call it what it is . . . abuse.

When people rise up and expect their government to be accountable, they’re discounted as anarchists, rioters, malcontents, etc., when the fact is they’re reacting to their abusers not in lines, or queues, but en masse.

Let’s see, Bank-abuse, NSA-abuse, IRS-abuse, ACA-abuse, Wall Street-abuse, unemployment-abuse, and Oh!, yes, Bridge-abuse . . . sounds accurate to me.

All the while our elected politicians sheepishly look around for someone to blame when they’re caught and mutter under their breath, “Flick? Flick who?”

Dazed and confused?

Nah! not even close, I’m very alert, and very aware.

What I am is numb and abused, how about you?

Mother Doesn’t Know Best – Kanye West Redux

Most people will never have a mega, public moment in the sun where microphones and all sorts of media are hanging on your every move and word.

Sure, we’ll have our marriage vows, graduation, recital kudos and so on. . . but that’s not worldwide mega.

When the few of us do experience the limelight as a result of an achievement, it is something to relish, something to tell your grandchildren, something that will never be forgotten.

In 2009, Kanye West stormed the VMA stage during Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for the Best Female Video. Whether you’re a fan of either entertainer is not the point. The point is West stole a moment from Swift that she can never replicate. I don’t care how many awards she may be the recipient of, she can never capture her VMA 2009 moment in the sun . . . because it’s just a moment.

The live audience was stunned, the viewing audience was stunned, the media had a field day. Who would do such a thing?

Alex Collins, University of Arkansas hopeful

Fasten your sun belt.

Football is in the news – again. This time, it’s National Signing Day, and what an embarrassment.

You are one of the very few who have reached such a level in your chosen sport. You’re a big, hulking guy, one of the top running-back prospects in the nation, and the world is your starfish because schools are vying for you ad nauseam.

That’s what Alex Collins worked toward. That’s what Alex Collins experienced. He had his pick of the liter and decided to attend the University of Arkansas. He gave them the thumbs-up along with his verbal A-ok. What an exciting moment in his life. A once-in-a-lifetime moment never to be replicated. Nothing could stand in his way – you would think.

Oh!, but his Mom evidently wears the pants in the family and wants him to play for the Miami Hurricanes. So consumed in her own self-righteousness Mom took a page out of Kanye’s oafish playbook, and stole her son’s glorious moment in the sun . . . she swiftly fled and confiscated his Letter of Intent; both cannot be located.

Wherever Alex lands he will be subject to heard and unheard whispers of “Momma’s boy,” and whatever this big, hulking specimen of a man-boy chooses to do in life, that footnote will always follow . . . thanks Mom.

Maybe the schools vying for Collins should reconsider because It looks as though the nation’s Number 1 running back can’t catch his own Mom.

When is Good Enough?

Ahhh!

That Andy Warhol – he was one smart cookie. He knew we all would be running each other over for our 15 minutes of fame.

But, could he have ever imagined an ego-driven phenomenon which has been added into the mix . . . and that phenomenon is already-in-the-spotlight people are increasingly craving more in-the-spotlight time. I’m not speaking about us mere minions, sorry Andy, I’m speaking about already known people.

Yuk.

Is anyone surprised with Lance Armstrong’s mea culpa, or any other sports, television, movie star, business leader or politician’s admission – about anything? Can we really be “shocked” by the creepy weirdness of Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o?

The resounding, unfortunate answer is a booming, “No.”

Te’o was “one of the most decorated high school athletes in Hawaii’s history”; in 2008, was named High School Athlete of the Year by “Sporting News”; won numerous other awards; accepted at the prestigious University of Notre Dame, played as the star linebacker for Notre Dame’s Football team, a finalist for the prestigious Heisman Trophy and will likely sign with a professional football team for many millions of dollars.

All of that adulation, limelight, support and opportunity: Not good enough.

Becoming one of the greats evidently wasn’t so great. Manti had to add pity points onto his fairy tale life story by sharing with the world a tragic, personal double loss: The passing of his grandmother, bad enough; but also the passing of his girlfriend to leukemia – both losses in the same week. Not only was he tough and talented, but also vulnerable.

Manti Te'o: From Heisman Trophy nominee to Emmy or Oscar nod?

Listening to what is now considered a strange interview, Te’o said, “The most beautiful girl I’ve ever met. Not because of her physical beauty but the beauty of her character and who she is. . . . Even though she was fighting leukemia and various things, she always found time to serve someone else. And her biggest thing to me was always be humble.”

The issue: Although he lost his grandmother, Manti’s psychosis began to shine brightly. His reference to the death of his girlfriend was a lie. You see, there was no girlfriend . . . and his fake social media girlfriend didn’t die. Alas, now he’s playing the pity card once again claiming he was the victim of a cruel online dating hoax. Oh! there was a hoax alright . . . but was it really only on him? I don’t think so. It was on those who followed his successes, those who believed in him, those who invested their time and guided him – those people, they’re the victims.

Manti’s bizarre behavior is an example of how we interact with people, how we relate to life and one another, how society casually hoists the term role model onto an actor, personality, politician, or athlete in this case; catapulting them into the stratosphere of superheroes.

And, boy do we love to see them fall. Social media only enables them to fall quicker.

Instead of being nominated for the Heisman Trophy, he should have been nominated for an Emmy or Oscar – what an actor, quite a natural.

Te’o had all of the right foundation – much like building a good fire. You know, the wood has to be right, air ventilation has to be just right, the poking of the logs and stoking of the fire has to be done with care, but more important – one must tend to the fire in order to fuel the flames safely.

But, Te’o kept adding fuel to the fire. He placed yet another log onto the fire and didn’t know when to stop. He didn’t tend the fire or stoke the flames properly . . . the once perfect fire backfired and got out of control.

I guess Te’o will blame the logs, but it’s his doing and his doing alone – his house is in flames.

Geldof Was a Visionary

The 1980s proved to be a pivotal, historical decade for fresh, visionary fund-raising tactics.

In October 1984 musician and philanthropist Bob Geldof saw a BBC report on the famine in Ethiopia. So alarmed and bothered by the millions of deaths, he got in touch with Midge Ure and co-wrote ”Do They Know It’s Christmas?” This celebrity-conscience effort was to hopefully raise awareness and money for Ethiopia’s famine victims. Released on December 7, 1984, Geldof was stunned when it became the fastest-selling single ever in Britain.

On the heels of such outpouring of relief, Geldof went a step further and helped organize an unprecedented relief campaign, “Live Aid.” Simultaneously telecast across the globe to 150 nations on July 13, 1985, Geldof became the founding father of relief . . . celebrity style.

Among the many artists who did participate, Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen declined the invitation to perform . . . a miscue they would never repeat.

But there were many other notable performers . . . including Bob Dylan, who made a controversial reference to the struggles American farmers were facing. Many believed Dylan’s comments comparing lifestyle to losing one’s life extremely insensitive.

However clumsy Dylan’s comments, it gave root to the September 22, 1985 benefit concert, “Farm Aid.” Geared toward raising awareness of our farmers’ plights, “Farm Aid” continues to raise money to this day for family farms. And, notably on their 20th Anniversary, our soon-to-be president, Barack Obama, made an appearance.

Because of the success with celebrity-organized relief events, corporations have understood the importance of public relations and have embraced the concept. Donning their civic hats, they became one with the minions . . . at least for the duration of the particular relief effort.

This year, “121212 the Concert for [Hurricane] Sandy Relief” was televised. Its major presenter was Chase; followed by Delta, Verizon, Time Warner, and the Robin Hood Foundation . . . to name a few. Monies donated go to the Robin Hood Relief Fund which will directly benefit the victims of the hurricane.

Madison Square Garden in New York was the place to be as history unfolded. Iconic rock royalty included Eric Clapton, Bon Jovi, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Roger Waters and The Who.

Twenty-eight years after their original shortsightedness . . . present, and performing were New York’s and New Jersey’s homeboys: Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen.

Is Your Comment Worth the Price of a Stamp?

Emails.

Love them, hate them.

I get hundreds of emails a day . . . and I’m one of the lucky ones.

There was a time in the business world where telephone conversations and face-to-face discussions actually took place. Imagine a time when all stake holders were wrangled into the discussion, issues were raised, problems were solved and directions were undertaken. And, most important: Nobody’s “feelings” were hurt. This was business.

Eventhough a CYA mentality always existed in business, today’s emails are flying across cyberspace fast and furiously, so much so that it’s become a job in itself just to monitor your mailbox. Then you have to follow the chain of comments in order to evaluate whether you’re supposed to be on the “Group,” “CC All,” or “Reply to All” list at all.

If, after much evaluation – and time – in following the chain, you uncover receipt of the email as valid, you’re now placed in the position of answering. The fact of the matter is use of email has been abused as “half of the average employee’s time is spent on email and other ‘necessary, yet unproductive tasks,’ ” reports Courtney Rubin of “Inc” magazine.

“We found that reducing . . . unproductive time by 25 percent can yield an extra six weeks in productivity each year, per employee, which should be an immediate call to action for business owners,” said Steve Taylor, “Webtorials” editor and publisher.

Hello, are business leaders listening, I mean reading – oh, no, maybe they didn’t receive that email.

The amount of time wasted firing off emails to and fro is absolutely stunning. Isn’t it quicker and simpler to pick up the telephone, or walk over to a colleague to discuss the issue at hand. After the discussion, it’s okay to receive a wrap-up of the discussion in an email . . . ah hem, for the record . . . you know, the CYA memo for prosperity.

Why have I decided to vent about this?

Simple . . . I was awestruck last week with a colleague’s decision to email me a two-line comment regarding a project.

Why was I awestruck? Read on . . .

I am a resident of a cubicle among neighboring cubicles. When each stands, we are higher than the cubicle walls, and when each sits, the landscape of the cubicles looks as though we could be participants in a whack-a-mole tournament. The cubicles are so close you can hear the tip-tap of keyboarding, toots and sighs, sniffles, coughs, conversations from one cubicle to the next. You get the picture, but let me explain it further . . . we’re so close I can actually hear my colleagues hair growing from the scalp.

So why would an email be shot across the cubicle, like a bullet from a gun?

CYA is the first thought, but it probably is more than that. Today’s young professionals have been brought up in the cyber world. Keyboarding is simply the norm, it’s second nature. They’ve mastered the quick, shorthand language which has taken its cue from stenography. It’s easier, they don’t have to listen to what the other person has to say, and they just have to send or reply.

Like all things, this progress has resulted in less human contact. Please read The Heat Is On . . . but the Air Conditioning is Not (posted July 2, 2012). Many have become so impersonal, so cloistered in their own reality that human conversation on a professional level is quickly becoming rare in the business world. And, let’s not forget – conversations must be politically correct – to the recipient’s ears. You cannot be direct, informative or irritated because you will be accused of being rude or off-putting.

Isn’t it time we all put our big-boy pants on?

It reminds me of how schools operate today. You know, everybody is a winner, everybody gets an award, everybody is the absolute best . . . which results in today’s bumper crop of professionals who don’t know how to handle a firm approach, critique, or conflict resolution. And when told there’s a problem; or maybe, just maybe they’re not the best, their crown becomes tilted as they flounder trying to blame somebody else.

Just go into any restaurant, bus, train, or your own dining-room table for goodness sake. Nobody talks. Smart phones, texts, and emails are the uninvited guest who is the wedge between you and human beings. It’s invaded your personal life and your professional life.

Call me crazy . . . that is rude and off-putting to me.

Walk over to your colleague when possible, pick up the phone, talk and solve the issue. You’ll probably shock yourself that you actually like who you work with, and you’ll amaze yourself that you’ve actually accomplished a lot in your workday.

I just made a new business protocol: Emails are not to be used in lieu of a conversation. If you wouldn’t buy a stamp and mail your communication, it doesn’t merit an email.

Yes, Soup For You

Art imitates life, imitates art.

. . . And, so I was delighted to view the Andy Warhol exhibit which opened on September 18 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

“Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years,” showcased artists who were inspired by Warhol; in addition to many of Warhol’s iconic pieces – including a Campbell’s Soup Can.

It was in 1962 when Warhol believed art in the post-war era lent itself to painting common, everyday items that summarized who we are. His new vision of pop art is now as commonplace as the soup cans he painted – both being iconic, American success stories.

As I was going through the exhibit, a colleague asked me if I knew who the original designer of the Campbell’s soup can label was . . . I didn’t.

So, here it goes . . . in 1897 the original label for the condensed soups were orange and blue. In 1898, while attending the University of Pennsylvania versus Cornell football game, Herberton L. Williams, a company big-wig, was drawn to Cornell’s red and white uniforms. And, the rest is history – kudos goes to Williams and Cornell.

According to Jonathan Thorn, Campbell’s corporate archivist, the label design cannot be attributed to any one individual. The design was a team effort with many iterations over the years. Thorn notes that Joseph Campbell’s own signature was likely used as the template for the label script which “was intended to look like cursive handwriting of the day that one would find on handwritten recipes, equating to ‘Homemade.’ ”

And, what about the impressive-looking medallion on the center of the label?

Well, it seems the Paris International Exposition in 1889 was a hot-bed in displaying future iconic images (please read The Power of the Tower, posted June 24). Not only did it produce the Eiffel Tower, a medal was also awarded to the Campbell Soup Company.

That prestigious medal was awarded to the Campbell Soup Company because it spoke to the quality of the soup, and it was such an important and regarded award that it became an integral part of the label.

These three elements have stayed constant, and have made Campbell’s soup a readily recognizable product worldwide: Incorporating the red and white color scheme, handwritten cursive script depicting a homemade product, and the medal received at the Paris Exposition.

From that moment on, Campbell’s soup has never looked back; and we will never look at a Campbell’s soup can without thinking of Andy Warhol.

Fifty years after Warhol’s 32 paintings of “Campbell’s Soup Cans,” exclusively sold at Target are four limited edition series of cans mimicking Warhol’s style.

This fitting tribute to an American artist who is so closely associated with the branding of Campbell’s soup will sell for 75 cents.

Imagine that . . . art imitates life, imitates art.


Rules, They’re Made to Be Broken

Sayings that we are comfortable with, that we grew up with, that coaches drilled into our heads have become part of who we are, our inner mantra. We believe those sayings, we pass them on, we recite them, we all know them.

It looks as though the saying, “There’s No ‘I’ in Team” is going to have to change . . . because it’s there. Just like an unassuming prescence in it’s own letter, it was probably in your subconscious, somewhere. It’s okay, you can admit it, at least one time you were the “I” person.

Although change can be good or bad, rest assured – change is always certain.

What other little ditty can be said that resonates with everyone; one which we recite silently to ourselves when we come in contact with a ball hog, or an unsavory co-worker? I guess they never grasped the concept of the saying – individual achievement doesn’t amount to much if the group fails.

So, what saying can a parent, teacher or boss count on when the tough gets going . . . to be inclusive, to inspire, to share in the success? I don’t know of another saying which clearly illustrates the point of all for one, one for all.

What do drill sergeants say if you’re not a team player, perhaps . . . “Another one bites the dust.”

That still resonates – I think.

Cruising to the Divorce Lawyers

Okay, really . . . is anyone surprised?

It has been reported that Katie Holmes has filed for divorce from
Tom Cruise, citing – you guessed it, “irreconcilable differences.”

How sad, remember Cruise professing his love for Holmes on “Oprah”? Surely his jumping up and down on Oprah’s couch in 2005 left an indelible mark in your mind. It certainly did on the bigwigs from Paramount Pictures. They were so creeped out that they cut their ties with his production company.

The love bug was evidently very public in 2005. That same year Holmes gave an interview to Wmagazine sharing, “I’ve found the man of my dreams … .” Hindsight is always 20-20, and it appears that her glowing admission is equally as sad as Tom’s public gymnastics; you see, her dreams turned out to be a nightmare.

Tom Cruise has been married three times; to actress Mimi Rogers, actress Nicole Kidman, and actress Katie Holmes – any bets on when Holmes will be nominated for an Oscar?

Adele is Aglow

Adele, the smokey songstress, is going to be a mother.

Adele is phenomenally successful as a songwriter, musician and singer, receiving six Grammy Awards in 2012 for her second album, 21.

In addition to untold awards, fans swooned over songs “Rolling in the Deep,” “Someone Like You,” and “Set Fire To The Rain.”

The 24-year-old said, ”Im delighted to announce that Simon [her significant other] and I are expecting our first child together. I wanted you to hear the news direct from me, obviously we’re over the moon and very excited but please respect our privacy at this precious time. Yours always, Adele xx”

Alex Trebek Suffers a Mild Heart Attack

Lifetime Achievement Award honoree Alex Trebek at the 38th Annual Daytime Entertainment Emmy Awards held June 19, 2011

“Jeapardy!” host Alex Trebek has suffered a mild heart attack, again.

Trebek’s first mild heart attack happened in 2007 and sidelined him from his duties as host for about a month.

Turning age 72 in July, he is resting comfortably and under observation at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in L.A. Trebek “is expected to fully recover and be back at ‘Jeopardy!’ when production begins taping in July for the new season, the show’s 29th,” producers said.

Making it cool to be smart, Trebek is a five-time winner of the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host, and has been aptly honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

America’s Impressionist Leroy Neiman Dies

Leroy Neiman, instantly recognizable with his trademark handlebar mustache and slicked back hair has died at age 91. Equally recognizable is his art; where he typically used enamel paint, quick brushstrokes and vivid colors.

"Olympic Track": The 100 meter finals of the 1972 Munich Olympic Games

Official painter of five Olympics, official computer artist of the Super Bowl for CBS, contributing artist at Playboy magazine, sketched the world chess tournament between Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer in Reykjavik, Iceland, before a live audience and sketched live drawings of the Olympics for TV.

"The Portrait of Liberty": Published in 2008, serigraph on paper

 

Neiman told the Associated Press, “I don’t know if I’m an impressionist or an expressionist” adding, “You can call me an American first. … (but) I’ve been labeled doing Neimanism, so that’s what it is, I guess.”

Leroy Neiman produced works of art that were alive, full of energy and movement with splashes of vivid colors.

Neiman’s passion for life, art and this country has endeared him to most citizens as America’s artist. Although his work is part of many private collections, Neiman selected The Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. to house his collection.

 

You Say It’s Your Birthday

Throughout the history of our planet, few individuals have had the ability to capture the imagination of the world. Explorers, inventors, leaders, musicians, artists, scientists and entrepreneurs have shared their passions and visions with the masses leaving an indelible imprint on lives.

Who would have ever believed a musician from Liverpool, England would be a member of a band which changed modern music, the way we dressed and the way we thought?

Who would have ever believed that seemingly simple band, The Beatles (a group for only ten years), would become the most successful rock band in history?

Who would have ever believed this same musician would have been knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1997 for his “services to music?”

Who would have ever believed “the cute one” – Sir Paul McCartney is one of the richest musicians in history and turned 70 this week?

Giant Cain is Able, and Now We All Know

Matt Cain, 27-year-old starting pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, made history on June 13, 2012.

Throwing a perfect game in a 10-0 win against the Houston Astros, Cain earned his place in baseball history as only the 22nd pitcher in Major League Baseball to accomplish that feat – and the first for the Giants’ franchise.

The right hander threw 125 pitches (the most thrown in a perfect game), and retired 27 batters. The icing on the cake: Cain’s perfect game included 14 strikeouts, which tied Sandy Koufax’s record set in 1965 of most strikeouts in a perfect game.

He can no longer be considered a rough in the diamond; practice evidently made perfect.

An Iron Your Man Will Use

What do you get your dad on his special day?

Well, he loves sports – but you seem to always get him something with his favorite team’s logo. He loves to Bar-B-Q – but your dad already has everything for outdoor grilling.

Aha! Do both . . . get your guy a sports/Bar-B-Q gift – all in one!

ProAction Sports makes grilling a contact sport. Brand meat, bread or vegetables with his favorite sports team logo. Made of a high conduc-tivity metal alloy, the branding iron also can be used for indoor grilling.

Finally, an iron for the man in your life.

“Dream Girls” Duet with Sanchez Was No Holliday

Was it just me, or was the female duet on “American Idol” – s t r a n g e – to say the least?

I thought Jennifer Holliday was going to take a giant bite into Jessica Sanchez and rip her apart.

What a scream fest, quite disturbing to watch.

In case you’re interested: Phillip Phillips was crowned this year’s “American Idol” winner.

The Celebrity Apprentice Winner Is . . .

Arsenio Hall. Actor, comedian and known for his late-night program, “The Arsenio Hall Show,” Hall was hired as the 2012 Celebrity Apprentice. In addition to over $160,000 his team raised for the final project, Hall is also the winner of the grand prize: $250,000 for his charity, the Magic Johnson Foundation.

The Magic Johnson Foundation works to develop programs and support community-based organizations that address the educational, health and social needs of ethnically diverse, urban communities.

Robin Gibb of Bee Gees Fame Has Died

“Saturday Night Fever,” starring John Travolta, became a mega hit in large part due to the groundbreaking disco soundtrack of the Bee Gees.

Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1977, the Bee Gees sold more than 200 million records, boasted six consecutive No. 1 records, and won seven Grammy awards.

Robin co-wrote many of the hits that became the anthem of the ’70s along with his older brother, Barry, and late twin brother, Maurice.

Disco Diva’s Last Dance

Donna Summer, five-time Grammy winner and
disco diva, has died.

Summer is known for legendary songs including, “Love to Love You Baby,” “MacArthur Park,” “Hot Stuff,” “Dim All the Lights,” “Bad Girls,” “On the Radio,” and “She Works Hard for the Money.”

“Last Dance,” a song synonomous with disco, has become a staple on the wedding circuit as one of the most requested final dance songs.

A Fair, Stern Judge

Here comes the judge!

Howard Stern, the famous radio mouthpiece and self-proclaimed “King of All Media,” is now the new judge on “America’s Got Talent.”

Once part of the listening public’s daily habit, Stern took his schtick to satellite SiriusXM radio – a move that disappointed many loyalists who could only listen to terrestrial radio.

Fans can now get their weekly fix as he dispenses fair and even-handed critiques for up-and-coming acts on “AGT.”

An honest breath of fresh air in the gush of underwhelming judges, Stern’s approach is sincere and dare I say . . .  wise.

Welcome back to television, Howard – it’s been too long.

Mustang Shelby

Carroll Shelby, forever known as the legendary car designer of the Shelby Cobra Mustang, has died.

Farmer, WWII aviator veteran, businessman, race-car driver, inventor and philanthropist; Shelby’s roots ran strong and wild – much like the Mustang horse.

When first shown at the 1962 New York Auto Show, the Cobra was the fastest production model ever manufactured.

Although Shelby had a folksy, laid-back demeanor, he became the only man to win the “Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency” – 24 Hours of LeMans as a driver, team owner and automaker – quite a feat.

An equally impressive but lesser-known fact: Shelby received a heart transplant on June 7, 1990; making him one of the nation’s longest-living heart transplant recipients – quite a life.

Sassoon: He Made Us Look Good

Vidal Sassoon, known as the “founder of hairdressing” who gave Mia Farrow her famous
pixie cut in “Rosemary’s Baby, has died.

He forever freed women from the “tyranny of the salon” with his simple, geometric, wash-and-wear hairstyles.

From shampoo boy he rose throughout the industry, and launched his product line in 1973 with the slogan, “If you don’t look good, we don’t look good.”

Only the Gentle

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Leading roles in “Rebel Without A Cause,” “East of Eden” and “Giant” cemented James Dean as an enduring Iconic American film actor.

Ranked as the 18th best male movie star by the American Film Institute, Dean was the first to receive an Academy Award nomination after his death.

This t-shirt embodies his intense yet vulnerable style, “Only the gentle are ever really strong.” – James Dean

Power to the People

Alex Trebek, affable host of “Jeopardy!” since 1984,
is considering retiring from his gig in two years – which would bring his reign to an even 30 years.

Interviewed by Chris Wallace from Fox News, they also discussed the game’s format scheduled to air May 14-18. It will pit 15 political figures, journalists, and media personalities against each other as they try to buzz themselves into the winner’s circle on “Power Players Week” contest.

Winners will earn at least $50,000 for their charity, while runners-up will receive $10,000 for their charity.

The Baker’s Dozen + One Mom is Bankrupt

Nadya Suleman, better known as “Octomom,” filed for bankruptcy.

Suleman’s decision to undergo fertility treatments, when she already had six children, raised serious questions and bothered so many that public support turned against her.

Instead of Nadya becoming famous for the birth of octuplets (only the second set of octuplets known to have survived birth in the United States), she has become famous for being an irresponsible, single mother of 14.

Although Suleman reportedly receives $4,000
to $5,000 a month in public assistance, according to legal papers, she owes between $500,000 and $1 million.

The Art of Writing

Even though writing has fallen prey to modern technology, there are still some who prefer to use these works of art, which double as mighty nice writing instruments.

The Caran d’Ache 1010 Fountain Pen will set you back a mere $174,000. This 18-carat gold wonder is intricately designed, and studded with a diamond and a ruby.

 

 

The Gotica pen showcases Gothic art and architecture: Gothic windows, fleurs-de-lis and rosettes.

Rhodium-coated solid silver shines with 892 brilliant-cut diamonds totaling 7.10 carats and the rosettes have 72 emeralds and 72 rubies.

You just might have to wear a suit of armor when you joust for this pen. Get it quick – before it disappears off the shelves like the Holy Grail – at the bargain price tag of $407,000.