BREAKING NEWS: FedEx signs on as title sponsor of Christmas; holiday name to change to FedEx Christmas(TM)

So last night I attended my apartment building’s Christmas party. Many of my neighbors work for FedEx, several in the marketing department in particular. So I always get to hear the latest rumors about what FedEx is up to. And last night I heard something HUGE.

They tell me that FedEx has agreed to pay $300,000,000 a year to become the title sponsor of Christmas. Starting in 2007, the holiday will be known as FedEx Christmas(TM).

“We’ve put our name on golf tournaments, tennis tournaments, arenas, even a football bowl game in the past,” one of the FedEx employees told me. “Signing on as the sponsor of a beloved holiday like Christmas is the next logical step.”

There will be some changes. Santa will no longer wear his red suit, but rather the purple-and-green uniform of a FedEx Ground delivery driver. His sleigh and reindeer will be replaced by a FedEx Ground delivery truck.

For now Santa’s name will remain “Santa Claus,” but I am told that at a future date Santa will be renamed, in order to better fit with FedEx’s global marketing and branding strategy. I am told that FedEx will hold a Give Santa a New Name contest, with people being given a contest entry each time they ship a package through FedEx or make a copy at FedEx Kinko’s. Winner will receive a free trip to the North Pole on a FedEx Express plane.

I asked my neighbors in FedEx Marketing how they would deal with the public outcry that is bound to arise over the change in Christmas’ image. “Well, you have to realize, this is not the first time a corporate marketing campaign helped to shape public perceptions of Christmas,” they told me. “Contemporary images of Santa came out of advertising by Coca-Cola. But we at FedEx feel it’s time to update that image. After all, how many kids have ever seen a reindeer? But they’ve seen a FedEx delivery truck. And a man in a big red suit is kind of scary – but the FedEx Ground delivery man, everyone knows he’s there to bring packages and presents and goodies.”

They told me they also have an extensive charitable campaign planned to build goodwill around the FedEx Christmas(TM) name. The company will be working with St.Jude locally to deliver FedEx Christmas(TM) presents to sick children, and it will also be donating money to serve FedEx Christmas(TM) dinner in homeless shelters around the world.

“You also have to understand, this was a smart business move for Santa,” I was told. “He’s getting up there in years, and running that toy factory takes a lot out of him. With the $300 million a year we’re paying him, he can simply go to the mall and buy all the presents, instead of making them himself. Or better yet, he can shop online and have the presents shipped via FedEx.”

They continued, “You also have to consider that this will allow Santa to lay off all his elves. This will reduce labor expenses, positively impacting Santa’s bottom line. You see, this sponsorship is truly a win for everyone.”

My neighbors went on to tell me of other planned changes. Although FedEx Christmas(TM) will usually remain on December 25, if the holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday it will be moved to the following Monday, since FedEx generally does not deliver packages on the weekends.

Local hotels such as the Peabody who serve brunch or dinner on the holiday will be allowed to continue doing so, as long as they properly display the FedEx Christmas(TM) logo on all advertising and signage, and pay FedEx a licensing fee for the use of the name.

Lots selling FedEx Christmas(TM) trees will also have to display proper logos and pay the licensing fee. Those lots not wishing to pay the licensing fee can get around it by simply calling their trees “holiday trees.” Some lots plan to start selling Festivus poles – based on the famous “a Festivus for the rest of us” episode of Seinfeld – in protest, but FedEx’s legal team is already preparing a lawsuit to stop the practice, claiming that Festivus is a Christmas derivative.

FedEx Christmas(TM) carols will have to be rewritten. For example, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” will now become “We Wish You a Merry FedEx Christmas(TM).” Since FedEx is a global company, this change will have to be carried throughout the world – for example, “Feliz FedEx Navidad(TM)” in Spanish-speaking countries.

A big thank you to FedEx and other generous corporations for making the world a better place through their sponsorships. Merry FedEx Christmas(TM) to all, and to all a good night!

Recommendation: Christmas party attire

I’ve been downstairs at my apartment building’s Christmas party, and I’ve heard from several of my neighbors about “Dirty Santa” parties happening in the next 12 days – where the idea is for female partygoers to dress up in Christmas attire that’s as skimpy and sexy as possible. (I asked what guys wear to these parties – “basically what you wore for Halloween, but with a hat,” I was told.)

I have a recommendation for those of you attending “Dirty Santa” parties this month – the Natalya Christmas Tube Top. It laces up in front, and can be accessorized with matching skirt and gloves. Dress up in one of these and it will be a merry Christmas indeed!

Pre-party post

Sitting here waiting for it to be 7:00, start time for my apartment building’s Christmas party downstairs. So while I’m waiting, you get a post. Don’t know if this one will be interesting because it’s going to be more of a stream-of-consciousness thing than a post with an actual topic. I still have the “Downtown’s best burgers” post in Drafts, but if I published that one next, that’d be three food-related posts in a row.

Good seeing fellow blogger Semi-Charmed Kat last night at the Saucer. She told me she was surprised that I said good things about Cordova in yesterday’s “Eat some BBQ, help make a wish come true” post. Well, the thing is, I was afraid that if I used my usual nickname for that part of town (“East Bumblefuck”) someone might get offended and not go to the BBQ place and support Make-A-Wish. Now, normally I couldn’t care less if my blog offends people, but in yesterday’s case it could’ve cost Make-A-Wish money. But never fear Kat, the charity drive is over and I’m back to making fun of the ‘burbs.

If you haven’t been checking out Kat’s blog lately, allow me to summarize: Ptolemy this Ptolemy that Ptolemy Ptolemy Ptolemy Ptolemy Ptolemy Ptolemy Ptolemy and more Ptolemy. A few days ago she listed partial results of the Ptolemy royalty vote, then deleted them when she learned that it’s supposed to be a big secret until February, and I nearly drunk-posted the results back to my own blog just to be an ass and to show my contempt for the whole Carnival royalty concept. But I thought better of it. Who knows, maybe I’ll get drunk again and go ahead with the post… did I mention that my apartment building’s Christmas party is tonight?

What’s going on this week… well, tomorrow I’ll be attending Mpact Memphis’ Promote Memphis committee meeting at Davis-Kidd (6:00). The committee will focus on ways to project a positive image of our city, both to our own residents and to people from outside the region. This committee was always a lot of fun to serve on back in the old days and I look forward to seeing what they come up with.

Ten Mile Bayou plays the Saucer Friday night. Funny how I came to be familiar with their music… back in September I was sitting at one of the window seats at the Saucer, one of the ones facing Peabody Place, and the band was playing and they took a break. The lead singer/guitarist came over and introduced himself, and said he saw me at the Saucer a lot and wanted to thank me for my support. I was like, “Um, yeah, sure, no problem…” The reason I sat where I did that night, in a seat with a good view of the band, was due not so much to the band itself, but due to the fact that the waitress working that section had on a particularly short skirt that night. But I came back and heard them at one of their subsequent Saucer gigs, and I thought to myself, “Damn, these guys are really good.” Soulful kind of rock with a Southern influence and a whole lot of feeling. They play both covers and originals. Definitely worth checking out if you’re downtown Friday night.

The downtown Christmas parade is Saturday. Parade is on Beale Street at 4 pm, and there will be some bands and Christmas stuff going on at Handy Park from noon to 4. You know, a few days ago I was remembering the December I spent in San Diego, when it was 77 degrees and I wore shorts the day of the Christmas parade. Well, thanks to our wacky weather it looks like I’ll be able to wear shorts to a Memphis Christmas parade as well… the Weather Channel is predicting high 72, low 57 for Saturday (they’re also saying highs will be in the 70s Sunday and Monday as well). 10% chance of rain. I like it!

With beautiful weather on Sunday, I’ll probably spend the day taking photos for the new website I’m building, so my hiatus from Sunday brunch will continue. I’ll probably stop in Sleep Out’s for one PBR though. Later in the day, after the sun goes down, I’ll probably download all the photos I took onto my laptop, and take the show on the road to the Saucer and get some work done there. And drink some beer.

Anyone get their hair cut at the new CityHouse Salon on GE Patterson? I’m considering giving them a try. It’s been 6 weeks ago as of tomorrow that my current stylist gave me a way-too-short post-Halloween haircut, and it’s finally grown out to what I consider a minimum acceptable length. I’ll probably let it grow for another 6 weeks at least before I get it cut again. Some of my guy friends get four haircuts to every one of mine.

My extra time off work has been approved. The city schools give people who work there 7 days off for the holidays (the week of December 25, and January 1 and 2), and I asked to take January 3-5 off so I could have a full two weeks of sleeping late and not having to sit in a cubicle. Now that’s going to be nice! No real plans other than a couple of days in Little Rock around Christmastime, and one of the nights when I’m off and in Memphis I plan to stumble in the Black Diamond about 3 in the morning and order a pizza with sausage and black olives. It’s a tradition I started the last time I had some extended time off. Hang on, let’s post a pic of that pizza:

And just for the heck of it, let’s also post what I had to drink with that pizza:

There ya go. The Diamond has the best pizza downtown. And their kitchen is open super-late. See, Denny’s isn’t your only late-night dining option downtown.

Hey, I guess this turned into a food post after all. And it took me an hour to type, so it’s almost party time now. Guess I’ll hit Publish and go get dressed.

Sauces: Our plate, your canvas

I know this is not the topic I promised tonight but I hope you’ll forgive me. After the Rapscallions coasted to our fourth consecutive first-place victory at trivia at the Flying Saucer, we stopped by Sauces (Our Plate, Your Canvas) which opened today on the Main Street Mall in the New Main block between Union and Gayoso.

Let’s start off with some pictures of the restaurant. The first three are of the upstairs, which features a bar, a community dining table, and several individual window-seat tables.

The downstairs has plenty of traditional seating available. Here are a couple of pics of the downstairs:

And finally, some pics of the food.

This is the grouper with mango bruschetta from the “your canvas” menu. The way it works is, you pick the seafood you want (grouper, mahi mahi, halibut, tuna, or salmon), the sauce you want (lobster cream, mango bruschetta, or orange teriyaki), and optionally an entree addition (crab cake, shrimp, smoked Applewood bacon, or sauteed mushrooms). They also have traditional menu items (lots of them) for those who don’t feel like building their own plate – the lobster ravioli (stuffed with asparagus and tomatoes in a delicate tomato sauce with a hint of fennel and vanilla) and the medallions Chesapake (seasoned and grilled steak medallions topped with lump crabmeat and lobster sauce) seem like good selections to me.

The spinach, tomato and bacon flatbread with fries. Comes with fresh spinach, roma tomatoes, Applewood bacon, Italian cheeses, red onion, crushed red pepper, and Dijon dill.

The Garlic Roasted Pepper Burger, with melted Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle and Dijon mustard.

Their mojito menu was not available because they’re waiting on their liquor permit, but they tell me that issue may be resolved as early as tomorrow. They have hooks underneath the bars and community dining tables to hang your coats and purses. They are also intent on making the upstairs area a hangout for Downtown locals. Very cool. They put a lot of hard work into this place and it paid off.

Out in Cordova today? Eat some BBQ, help make a wish come true

If you live or work in Cordova, or if you plan to head out there today to do some Christmas shopping at Wolfchase Galleria, be sure to stop by Jim N’ Nick’s Barbecue. Jim N’ Nick’s will be donating half of today’s total sales to the Make-A-Wish Foundation (up to $5,000). The restaurant will be teaming with Cordova High School to help grant the wish of a child with a life-threatening medical condition.

You can even check out their menu online and pick out what you want before you head over there. I’ve never been to Jim N’ Nick’s, but I’ve read that the cheese biscuits, homemade pies and of course the BBQ itself are among the favorites.

Remember, this is happening today (Tuesday, December 12) only, so be sure to get by there today if you want to participate. C’mon, you gotta eat, don’t ya?

If you go out there, eat some BBQ for me, because I won’t be able to make it to Cordova today – it’s the weekly trivia night downtown at the Saucer. By the way, congrats to my team The Rapscallions on their first-place victory last Tuesday! The $50 gift certificate we won brings our total stash to, well, $50, since the team just had a party on December 1 where we spent all our gift certificates. Let’s win five more times in a row and we’ll be in good shape to have another big party by mid-January!

That’s it for now… I actually have an additional post about downtown’s best burgers that is ready to go, but I want to leave the Make-A-Wish info at the top of my blog through the afternoon at least. So, look for the burger post late afternoon or early evening.

Christmas gift idea: Give the work of a Downtown Memphis artist

If you’re looking for something unique to give your loved one, friend or family member for Christmas, I’d like to recommend the art of my good friend and downtown resident, Shane Paris. Shane can create custom pieces just for you (I’ll talk more about that in a moment) and his work is surprisingly affordable. Here are a few samples of what he can do:

This is a collage of images from one of Shane’s favorite towns, New Orleans. This is also one of Shane’s specialties: If you provide him with a group of related photographs, he can produce and print an attractive collage incorporating those images. For example, for one client he took 4 years of college photos and created a collage of those as a graduation present.

Pet photos are another specialty of Shane’s. He can take a regular photo of your pet and superimpose it on a background image to produce a dramatic effect. Here a client from another state commissioned Shane to create artwork based on his dog, Scout. He mailed Shane a photo of Scout taken with a regular camera, and Shane scanned it and positioned it over a swamp background image and adjusted the lighting to produce the effect shown above. If you love your pet and would like an artistic image of him/her, Shane is the man to talk to.

One thing Shane does really well is take photos of ordinary objects and turn them into works of art via photo editing. Here is one of his all-time favorites, a picture of a microphone.

Another ordinary object Shane photographed (this time, a door knocker) turned into something special thanks to his artistic skills. Once again, you can commission Shane to do custom work if you have a particular object in mind.

Here’s a Memphis photo Shane took and retouched: The sunset over the Mississippi River and I-40 bridge. Because Shane lives in Downtown Memphis and owns a camera, you can commission him to take custom photos of whatever place or scene you would like. He can also retouch them to produce any desired effect, and have them printed on any size canvas.

Shane does abstract pieces as well. This one is called “Begonia.” He sells prints of it and others like it that he has done.

Shane also designs logos and graphics for websites, and in fact, he is the person I have asked to help design a logo for the Downtown Memphis site I plan on rolling out next spring. Shane lives downtown and loves it (and he loves the South in general, as is reflected in his work) and I can think of no person more qualified to design art for a site that says “Downtown Memphis.”

If you’re on MySpace, you can view more of Shane’s work through his MySpace page. You can also join his MySpace art group.

If you’re interested in purchasing Shane’s art or commissioning him to do a custom job, you can either contact him through his MySpace page, or you can e-mail me ( and I will send you his contact info.

Business cards, business card strategy, and business cards software

I haven’t carried a personal business card for several years now. I always carry note cards and a pen with me, so when someone asks me for my contact info, I just write it down. But this week I’ve been thinking that it’s time to start handing out my own business cards again.

I always design my own cards and print them out on my printer using Avery inkjet card stock. This works well for me because it means I’m not stuck with the same design for print runs of 500 or 1000 cards at a time; I can change the design every 10 cards if I want.

Being able to do that allows me the luxury of printing multiple business cards to be handed out to different people. What I’m thinking about doing is having a “serious, corporate” business card and a “fun, playful” business card.

Both cards will contain my name, my cell phone number, and a summary of what I do (web development using ASP.NET and SQL Server).

The “fun, playful” card will contain a funny, unforgettable image (no idea what image yet; it definitely will NOT be a photo of me though), my e-mail address, and the URL of either the front page of my website, or my blog (I haven’t decided that one yet).

The “serious, corporate” card will feature an eye-catching but professional image. The last time I had such a card, in 2002, I used a clip art image of a desktop computer. On the serious card I’ll use my e-mail address (I use Gmail to check my e-mail as well, so they both end up at the same spot). I also plan to find some way to move my resume off (I have other domains where I can place it), so that there’s no evidence on the business card that is my website. That way, if they have a stick up their ass like many corporate types do, they won’t find my blog and think badly of me because they see the drunken pics taken of me at the Saucer last weekend, or my rants about Cubicle World, or my posts declaring June to be Tube Top Month. Or at least, I won’t lay my blog right out there in the open for them to find.

The “fun, playful” card will be the default, the one that I hand out 80-90% of the time. It will be the one I give out when I meet people in bars and restaurants, at functions like Mpact and neighborhood association meetings, even some business meetings when I can tell the person I am dealing with has a sense of humor. No idea what I’d use on the card as the “unforgettable” image, but to give you an idea – years ago when I lived in Little Rock, the Arkansas Times ran a story on poor families living on the Delta. There was this B/W photo of a farm family looking down at a hog, and the hog looking back up at the family. Every time I saw that I cracked up for some reason. I’m sorry I didn’t hang on to that photo, because I’d love to scan it and put it on my business card. It has absolutely nothing to do with anything, and that’s the point. People would ask “Why?” and I’d reply “Why not?”

The “serious, corporate” card would be the one I’d use the other 10-20% of the time, when dealing with people who might not have enough of a sense of humor to appreciate the other card, people who believe that you have to project a professional image at all times in the world of business. As a rule I hate dealing with those people, but sometimes it’s necessary, and it’s always important to meet others where they currently are in their beliefs. If one day I once again find myself going on job interviews and talking to corporate recruiters, that will be the card I use in those circumstances.

Since I don’t have the fun card planned out, and since I haven’t figured out where I’m going to put my resume, I’m going to create a temporary card in the meantime with the “serious, corporate” look and the Gmail address. I’ll keep printing those out in batches of 10 and handing them out until I get the other card designed.

That brings me to my next question… what software is good to use to design business cards? When I came back from Thanksgiving break, my mother gave me her Print Shop CD, but it’s nine years old and I want something more current. I realize a lot of people do their cards in Word (which has templates for Avery cards) but I want more control than Word provides. What’s the best business card program out there? Are there any freeware programs that are worth a look? I want a program that can import GIF, JPG and PNG images and knows how to design for standard Avery business card formats.

Too cold to go out tonight… think I’ll stay home and get an early start in the morning.

All kinds of stuff: Teach for America, New Leaders for New Schools, Sleeman Creme Ale, no more Deals, on hiatus from Sunday brunch, and more

– Last night I went to a reception at Bluefin, held by Mpact Memphis, to honor two outstanding groups who are working to positively impact the education inner-city children receive.

I spent quite a bit of time talking with a first-year East High teacher, who came to the high school through the Teach for America program. Teach for America addresses the inequalities in our school system by getting some of the brightest college graduates from all over the country, majoring in all fields of study, to commit two years to teaching in inner-city schools in low-income neighborhoods.

The East High teacher I spoke to explained that not all of the Teach for America teachers will remain in education once they complete their two years, nor are they expected to. But, she told me, because they are the best and brightest they will go on to become leaders in the corporate world and in the realm of public policy. “Can you imagine how much better public schools would be today,” she asked me, “if all of our leaders had that classroom experience in their background?” Great point.

She also explained to me the prestige of the program. “Many of the people who enroll in our program are from schools like Yale and Harvard and would like to work for companies like Goldman Sachs. Well, guess what? Goldman Sachs likes to see Teach for America on resumes.” Again, good point. If you can convince a headstrong 8th-grader to do what you want, then persuading corporate middle managers should be a piece of cake.

– I also met representatives of New Leaders for New Schools, a group that is preparing the next generation of principals to take the lead in public school systems. They have to go through a rigorous training program, and they commit to five core principles (principles for principals) based on the belief that every child can attain excellence, given access to adults who believe in them and who know how to unlock the potential of every child.

I am just thrilled to no end to see the Memphis City Schools involved in both of these movements. MCS has really won my support and my enthusiasm over the past 8 months for all they are doing to help children succeed.

I’m also thrilled to see Mpact Memphis promoting this type of event. Mpact has always focused on working with its corporate partners – the FedExes and Autozones and the like – to recruit and retain talented people for those types of companies. But, it’s always been my belief that Mpact needs to reach out just as strongly to those working in education. To everyone who put the event together, great job.

– After the event I stopped by (of course) the Flying Saucer, then went to Big Foot Lodge where I had a four-cheese burger topped with sauteed mushrooms. MAN was that good. I noticed that they now have Sleeman Creme Ale on draft. The bartender told me that a 34 oz. Sleeman Creme Ale was only 5 bucks. Now that’s a deal!

– Speaking of Deals… I have resigned from the Deal of the Week blog I had been writing for the Commercial Appeal since April. When I started writing Deal of the Week, I figured there would be a certain amount of fame/prestige involved in writing for the CA’s site… and to some extent there has been, but honestly, in the eight months since, my personal blog has brought me more fame and more readers than the CA. So I want to focus all my energy here. Also, for what they were paying me it just wasn’t worth having a responsibility on my plate when I woke up on Sunday mornings.

– Speaking of Sunday mornings… back in winter 2003-04 I took a hiatus from Sunday brunch at Sleep Out Louie’s. I’m going to be taking another one this winter. The reason is, I’m working on a major website (not for work, but a side project) that I want to roll out no later than April 1, and Sunday is the best day to work on it. Drinking a bottle of champagne with brunch and being wasted by 2 PM every Sunday robs me of too much time and brain power that I need right now.

This does not mean that I won’t be showing up at all at Sleep Out’s on Sunday. It’s just that there won’t be a 99.9% chance that I’ll be there by 11:30 AM for the next few months. Rather, Sundays at SOL will be like, say, Thursday nights at the Saucer… no one expects me to be there, but there’s still a very good chance I’ll wander in for a beer or two.

I want to make it clear that my hiatus has nothing to do with the bar… Sunday brunch at SOL is back and better than ever. This is just a personal decision that makes sense right now. So no one at SOL should take it personally… and it’s not a permanent hiatus. I’ll be back by spring at the latest.

– Speaking of SOL… Crash Kole, Bobby Durango, and Josh Lemons play tonight at 7:30. I think they’ll have a drummer backing them up this time too.

– Best quote I heard in the past 24 hours: “She’s a witch with a capital B.” Heh. That’s a good one. I’ll have to remember that one to use myself. I better not say where I heard it or who said it.

– In the news: Looks like Target is finally coming to Midtown.

– Check Thaddeus Matthews’ blog today for a hilarious Photoshopped image of Rickey Peete allegedly retrieving cash that was left for him in his office’s restroom.

That’s all for now. I’m typing this in a hurry, so apologies for any spelling/grammar mistakes I didn’t catch. Think I’ll hit Costa Vida for some take-out before I go back to work.

Required reading

Required reading for anyone who works in a corporate office, or works an 8-to-5 desk job, or manages people who work 8-to-5 desk jobs:

This is an article on how one of America’s largest and most successful corporations, Best Buy, is switching to a results-only work environment (ROWE), where employees are measured on performance rather than being present during traditionally prescribed work hours.

Consider this a follow-up to my “escape from Cubicle World” post from a couple of days ago. I want to work for a company like this. This is where the world of work is headed. I may make a longer post on this but I want you all to read the article first.

Thanks to Pam for forwarding me the link.