Two approaches to patient confidentiality

Russell Brand, a British comedian, will be hosting the MTV VMAs this year. He has quite a colourful past, which he isn’t careful to hide: ” … In the ensuing years, Mr. Brand writes, he was treated at Focus Counseling Services in Suffolk, England, for his drug problem, and at the KeyStone Center in Chester, […]

A note about media preferences in the 50s

I had no idea “milk bars” were greeted with such consternation in 1950s Britain. “Milk Bars, Starbucks and the Uses of Literacy,” written by Joe Moran and printed in the November 2006 edition of Cultural Studies, touches upon a number of cultural influences affecting British youth in the 50s. Like jukeboxes: “… By the end […]

I’m A Social Media Gigolo

When Joe asked “are there social media tools and apps for which you once had high hopes that you now find yourself using and visiting less often?” – I knew I was in trouble. I have a hard time with commitment. Especially when it comes to online applications. You see, I loved once. And then […]

What Anne Murray Would Do If She Won $2 Million

From this week’s episode of Canadian Idol, where 70s songbird Anne Murray was the featured performer. Host Ben Mulroney really set up the punchline: ” … The first out-of-the-box moment came when Mulroney turned to judge Sass Jordan and asked her about “four dudes doin’ Anne Murray.” Of course he was referring to the four […]

John McEnroe cares …

John McEnroe. Older, still passionate about tennis and opinionated. A wonderful profile in the NY Times magazine. McEnroe is also the first to admit that “I’m not mellow, I’m mellower,” which means, says his wife, “he’s an affectionate guy, a happy guy and man can he get freaking angry.” This is to say that McEnroe’s […]

How my book review became a tirade

I’ll let you in on a secret. I really can’t stand theory. Don’t get me wrong – I can understand the value of frameworks. I recognize that, sometimes, common elements repeat in patterns and trends that can provide insight into activities, events and environments. I also admit that there are a whole lot of people […]

JC Penney’s phones an ad in

Well, another soulless and derivative attempt to manipulate two generations at once: JC Penney’s new back-to-school ad plays on the heartstrings of Generation X with its recreation of The Breakfast Club. Snappy little number, but it misses all the character, teenage angst, conflict with authority and pop psychology of the original. (I didn’t hold out […]

People Who Rip Off Green Eggs and Ham

It’s a childhood staple, it’s amusing, it has many vibrant colours that catch and engage the eye. The storyline is simple but engaging. And it really reminds me of walking past the roadside food stalls in Delhi – sensing adventure, anticipation, surprise, but also fearing potentially disastrous consequences. For a lot of illustrators, authors and […]

Upcoming opportunities to admire me

I think this may be a first: a bit of self promotion about my upcoming speaking gigs: The Public Relations Society of America T3 Conference, September 11, NYC Hot Topics: Prominent PR Bloggers Speak Out Phil Gomes, Phil’s Blogservations (; vice president, Edelman Digital; senior advisor, Society for New Communications Research Colin McKay, Canuckflack (; […]

Foodland Ontario Has Possessed My Grocer

My local grocer seems to have a good thing going. Surrounded by national and regional chains in a very competitive suburban market, Ross’ Independent Grocer brands himself as the locally engaged grocer, with clear links to the community. At the same time, the “Independent Grocer” franchise is clearly a part of the much larger Loblaws/Weston […]

Ice cream and the gilded cage

At some point in the past, my parents lived in Kingston, Jamaica. A lovely country with a rich heritage, many pleasant and welcoming citizens and a mouth watering (and searing) bbq tradition. Their ranch home, however, constantly reminded each visitor that there is a dark and violent side to the Jamaican capital. Guards on duty […]

Mods – the long tail finally snaps

The long tail finally snaps at something I’m interested in and have been looking for: music from the late 70s / early 80s mod revival. The Lambrettas, The Creation, The Purple Hearts: a treasure trove can be found at The Songs That People Sing. Enjoy.

When they don’t play the media relations game

I don’t think I’m revealing any secrets when noting that effective media relations specialists have particular tricks to convey information – tricks that prevent journalists, authors and even bloggers from quoting the media relations folks directly. After all, who wants to be part of the story? These tricks including only communicating in broken sentences, bullet […]

What you didn’t know about Neil Diamond

From the New York Times: “When writing songs, he said, he keeps copious notes on yellow legal pads and lugs the paperwork around in dozens of shopping bags.” He has played the XL Center in Hartford sixteen times. Shopping bags? Really? Publix? Can you date and geolocate his songs based on the bags?

Marvin Gaye’ so good ….

… a comment from the always entertaining PopDose, this time in response to a post critiquing the music found in the Billboard Chart of August 11, 1973: “… “Let’s Get It On” was #1 for two *non-consecutive* weeks. That’s right – Marvin’s so good, he came back for seconds …” Here’s Marvin singing it at […]

House of Pain’s Royalty Stream

Use of Space in the Olympics Bird’s Nest

SPOILER ALERT: for those of you watching the Olympics Opening Ceremonies on time delay (courtesy of NBC), you may want to skip this post. I was truly impressed by the use of space during the Olympics Opening Ceremonies this morning/evening. The Bird’s Nest is already an impressive facility, but the three hour performance managed to […]

Tragic Headline of the Day

Ferrari Designer Dies in Vespa Crash – Bloomberg and the Ottawa Citizen Unfortunately, the story only gets worse – Andrea Pininfarina died when his Vespa scooter hit a Ford Fiesta. While Ford may have a reputation for model development and contemporary design in Europe, most North Americans remember a distinctly underwhelming Fiesta model.

Brian Regan – brand advisor for Bell Canada

Bell Canada is launching a new corporate look tomorrow, one that promises to be … “clear, bold and instantly recognizable” … Key to the look are three elements: a new logo new tag lines centred around the concept of things getting “better” renamed product lines. From what I can tell, the logo will be a […]

I have a microphone, so I am an expert

Steve Heller, in AIGA: … I cannot tolerate motivational speakers. Their imperious, self-bloated stagecraft is, for me, like listening to chalk screeching on a blackboard. Nonetheless, I know people who draw real inspiration from this twaddle. In fact, at a few conferences I’ve seen audiences become rapt in devotional attention as motivational gurus toss out […]

Less than majestic wonders of the world

Matthew Higgs asked 66 individuals and groups to identify their “seven wonders of the world” as part of a project with Book Works. Here are some of the responses that struck my fancy: Bjork Repulse Bay, Hong Kong Ian Curtis dancing The ‘Disappear Here’ billboard from Bret Easton Ellis’ Less Than Zero The park in […]

Like Twitter but with details and stuff

You know how you’re sitting there, Blackberry, iPhone or smartphone in hand, when you live through a unique but compelling experience? The sort of funny, ironic, startling, refreshing or depressing moment that you just feel it necessary to share? Or maybe you’re just bored – and you still feel like sharing? Thanks to micro-blogging and […]

This bike goes to eleven

Back in university, there were two or three guys whose most prominent piece of furniture was a giant black performance speaker – the sort of three foot by five foot box normally carted around in the back of a Ford Econoline van, the sort of thing that needed a strong professional amp. Usually, these guys […]

A uniquely 20th century business

A former television repair centre, found on a backstreet here in Ottawa. The sign hangs over a roll-up steel door. This was personalized and convenient service, allowing you to drive your car or truck right into the service bay so your oversized television console could be brought in for repair with relatively little fuss. The […]

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