Ruffled Feathers

Who wudda thunk it?  That Big Bird would become a political hot potato in the home stretch of presidential election season?  Only in America could that big, feathery, loveable symbol of childhood get caught in the crossfire.

There’s no debating it, ever since Big Bird was named as a target for cost-cutting by Romney last week, the yellow guy has never seen this much ink.

It all started when Mitt took the mitts off and ran over poor Jim Lehrer while he was asleep at the moderator chair.  Hard-hearted Mitt told the global audience that he would actually cut PBS, Big Bird and poor Jim if he’s elected the next prez.  (I got very nervous about my Masterpiece Mystery! addiction).  But, hey, folks, that’s at least one cut he’s telling us he’ll make.  When it comes right down to it, Mitt is showing us he can make the tough choices.

So, what did Big Bird do?  He goes on a media tour and appears on SNL with Seth Meyers.  Quite a coup for the bird on the street.

But, now the candidates are flippin’ the bird all over the place.  Obama is now using Big Bird in an Anti-Romney ad and in stump speeches, and Romney countered with none other than the Count to show that 2 can play the same game!!  It’s obvious these guys are playing hardball.

This might sound funny, but Sesame Street is NOT laughing.  They do not want to be seen as endorsing either party and want all Sesame-Street-related ads pulled. The Obama Campaign is thinkin’ about it.

Guess that means Big Bird is down for the Count.

Ride Sally Ride

Sally had the ride of her life.  The first woman in space went where no woman had gone before.

Sally Ride died this week of pancreatic cancer.  Too young.

What a trailblazer – a woman growing up in the 50s and 60s to become a scientist, space traveler and, as the world has just learned, a lesbian.

So now pundits are coming out of the woodwork taking potshots over whether Sally should have come out sooner to show the world “it’s OK to be gay.”  Kinda like Anderson Cooper did.

For me, it was Sally’s choice.  No one else was in Sally Ride’s skin as she grew up and made a career and life choices.  If she wanted to keep her relationship on the down low for professional or personal reasons, who has the right to dispute her decision?  No one.

And when Anderson came out because he felt it was the right thing to do, slam dunk for Anderson.  He, too, did what he needed to do at the time that was right for him.

Every one of us has issues and each of us has to deal with them in the way that works best for us.

To me, Sally Ride was a brave astronaut who must have plowed through some heavy duty politics to become a national hero.  And she died as bravely as she lived, with the understanding that her private life would finally be in the spotlight.  It was Sally’s last call.

The Heat Wave is Worth Talking About

It’s too damn hot.

I’ve lived in DC since 1984 so I’m used to swamp-like weather in the summer, but this has been one blistering month even by DC standards.  And it’s the warmest January-June stretch ever recorded.  Ouch!

So, naturally the storms, power outages and chill-seeking are all making headlines.  Add in some flash floods and chunky hailstones and it’s like the 10 plagues, except it’s all heat-related.  And it’s a great story for bloggers, Tweeters and reporters.  “RECORD HEAT BLASTS COUNTRY.”  The heat story rotates as lead between the political wars and the countdown to the Olympics.  Check it out on CNN, MSNBC, WebMD and probably even Pinterest.

At lunch today someone around our conference table actually said it felt much better out today…”it’s only 90.”  Who knew 90 degrees was cool?  Let me run and get a sweater.  Better yet, my arctic parka from college (the navy one with fake fur around the hood).

I was big-time lucky last week when my power stayed on after the storm of the century.  I looked out my terrace and it was like the aliens were invading.  The sky was strobing blue and white with thunder, lightning and pounding rain.

Post-storm fallout has not been pretty.  Just google weather on YouTube and check out the downed trees, power lines and raging rivers not to mention the fires out west.  It’s like the end of the world and it’s not even the Mayan calendar.

In a stab to beat the heat, I flew to long Island this past weekend.  I figured it’s always cooler at the beach.  Wrong.

So, what to do?  Besides the online tips to drink water and stay indoors I have one better.  Go to the movies!  See Magic Mike, Savages and Spiderman 12, a triple feature.  Sit in a cushy seat, eat some popcorn and get your fluids while you chill next to an a/c vent.

I know….not everyone can go to the movies when there’s a real disaster at the door.  But, when it’s just too damn hot out and the power is still on, just give me an ice cream and a DVD of White Christmas and I’m happy.

The death of privacy

Whitney Houston. Amy Winehouse. Michael Jackson. Xanax. Alcohol. Propofol. Valley of the Dolls.

This is what we remember about these famous singers – their causes of death. And it’s not entirely our fault that we suddenly link these talented artists with the substances that killed them. It’s all over the papers, on Twitter, Facebook and countless other social media websites. Comedians make jokes, bloggers make assumptions and drug habits make headlines.

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Netflix F*x Up

What were they thinking? First Netflix hikes prices for DVD mail-outs and online streaming a few months back, then they decide to apologize by video. In the PR world a sincere apology by a CEO is usually a good move, but this one bombed.

Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings started out his blog apology by saying “I messed up.” But then he royally messed up again by explaining that he was dividing the company products into two separate businesses with the DVD service now called Qwikster. Yes, that’s Qwikster with a “w.”

Let’s rewind. Here’s what I would have suggested Reed do:  keep the “I messed up” line and then lower prices to gain back the trust of consumers. And I would never, ever have come up with a name like Qwikster. In PR, where there’s print, digital and broadcast, you never want a name that consumers might mistake for another. In this case, Quickster. And why another techy-sounding brand name? Haven’t we had enough already?

Huffington Post writer Jason Gilbert wryly commented, “Hey Qwikster, 1991 called, it wants its radical new company name back.”

So, this means two separate websites for those of us who want both mailed DVDs and the ability to stream. What a pain in the tush!

Reed might be brilliant by dividing the company so that he can jettison Qwikster qwickly as streaming video becomes the deliver du jour, but in the meantime, he’s got lots of angry subscribers who are both confused by the name and by the two services they now need to keep track of.

Who knows, maybe cable and movie theaters with popcorn and slushees will be the big beneficiaries here. I sure hope so.

Hiking Can Be Dangerous (Updated)

UPDATE: As of September 21, after two years in an Iranian prison, American hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer have been released.

There’s nothing like taking an innocent hike in the Middle East and wandering into Ahmadinejad territory. Not good. And that’s exactly what three Berkeley grads were doing in the summer  of 2009 when they reportedly went one step too far. An Iranian soldier motioned them forward and then snatched Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal and Sarah Shourd into custody; Birkenstocks, backpacks and all.

Shourd was released in September of 2010 on $500,000 bail while the two guys were sentenced to eight years in Iranian prison. Though Ahmadinejad calls their prison stay “like staying in a hotel,” the Ritz-Carlton doesn’t exactly leap to mind. Neither does Motel 6. I’m thinking there’s no business center or gym with elliptical, or even free donuts and coffee for breakfast. I don’t know about you, but one of the last places I’d like to sleep is in an Iranian prison. I like maid service and the “do not disturb” sign… a lot.

So, the word is the guys are going to be set free. It seems as if Ahmadinejad may have hired a PR firm – maybe for 360-degree global marcomm – to soften his image when he told Ann Curry on “Today” that he thought the prisoners were coming home soon. I guess the Tehran PR firm must have told him that “Today” would run and re-run clips of him looking like a really good guy. The fact that the hikers have been up on charges of spying without a shred of evidence doesn’t really come into play in the Iranian justice system, or injustice system.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is “cautious” in her response, yet remained “optimistic.”

Now there might be another monkey wrench in the hikers’ journey. Iran’s court system, not a lot like ours, is deciding to ease on the brakes. Judges say they’re still reviewing the plan to “offer” bail to the two young Americans who I’m sure are waiting things out at the bar at prison happy hour right about now.

If Ahmadinejad knows what’s good for him, he’ll make good on his statement and let the two guys go. How much more can any American detest him?

My suggestion: let’s put Ahmadinejad in a penthouse in his faux hotel, lock the door and let him stay there forever. It’d be a good photo opp for the world to see.


Mon Dieux! Dominique Strauss-Kahn might actually be innocent of the charges leveled against him by a Manhattan maid. And with the charges dropped, the prosecutor-led perp walk might morph into a walk back into the public graces of his fellow Frenchfolk.

This socialist socialite might still be a slimeball, but if DSK opts to run for President of France, he just might have enough French voters feeling sorry for him to help him win the election… or at the very least getting back on the horse and in the race.

How could he earn his political reputation back in France? If I were his PR counselor, I’d round up some very credible French heavyweights to be extremely vocal about how “wronged” DSK was by the law, the media and the maid, and how his loss of IMF top spot and slot in the upcoming French Presidential election was simply unforgivable. The only just option is for DSK to get back into the spotlight and demonstrate the kind of leader he would be for France.

Given the global clamoring for any tidbit related to DSK-Gate, this would be a perfect time to round up allies and send them on the road to speak to high level French radio, TV and newspapers. Reporters from Le Figaro, Le Monde, France 2 and France 24 will be lining up for any sidebars to this major political, sex-fueled news event.

As for DSK himself, he should certainly reinforce the fact he stated he was innocent from the start, but the outrage must come from others on his behalf in order to strengthen his credibility and re-ignite his following and his career.

Do I think DSK was wronged? Well, I’m no fan of slapping cuffs on public figures just to make the Manhattan DA’s office look good, but I have this sneaking suspicion that though charges are dropped this time around, DSK has been no angel throughout his career.