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Counselor Senior Editor Michele Bell's slanted view of the world.

You Say You Want a Resolution…

Filed under: Fun, Personal

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

As I type this in the last remaining days of 2008, I’m full of hope and optimism. Yeah, there’s the fact that we’ll soon have a president who uses three-syllable words without making us cringe and knows that the Bill of Rights isn’t a list of suggestions. But in addition to that, I’ve always been a fan of that clean slate feeling you get at the start of a brand new year — like shaking an Etch-a-Sketch that erases all the crappy, idiotic things you’ve done throughout the previous one. And while I’ve never been one to ponder things pensively in retrospect (I’m more of a “let’s get on with it and move forward” kind of girl), I do have some resolutions for 2009, most of which I will have selectively ignored in roughly two weeks.

1. Stop procrastinating. To be clear, there are few tasks that I don’t put off until the very last possible minute. There’s probably some clinical, psychological term for this, though Joe Haley, the managing editor of ASI’s magazines, has his own description for the special brand of hell it causes him when my magazine is in production or a profile I’m writing isn’t finished as we’re literally going to the printer the next day: “When you’re on deadline,” Joe sighs, “a little piece of me dies every day.” Rather than work on a profile for an issue of Counselor, I once WILLINGLY watched a marathon of “The Hills,” that insipid reality show on MTV, starring mentally deficient pretty people in all their vapid, moronic glory. It was an eight-hour marathon and I watched it all. I know… I need to be under the care of a whole team of mental health professionals.

2. Get organized and prioritize. Instead of methodically tackling one project at a time, my strategy is more akin to a drunken baby wielding a shotgun and firing off scattered rounds. I jump from project to project, until the end of the day when I have different items in various states of completion. I’m sure I have some ADD/OCD/ADHD issues that keep me from concentrating for any length of time for which I should seek medicinal relief — and God knows I’m not opposed to pills — but it just seems so, I don’t know, trendy to blame one’s inability to focus on some sort of short-circuiting brain waves. Crazy I can deal with; cliche is another story….

3. Be better at keeping in touch with friends. To say I’ve been remiss in this area is putting it mildly. You know what it’s like — deadlines, travel, endless happy hours… and then the year’s over. I sent my Goddaughter a card last month wishing her a “Happy 13th Birthday!” That’s all well and good, except she’s 15 and I was there, in the room, when the child was born. Time flies when you’re being a spaz and not paying attention…

Do you have any juicy resolutions? I’d love to hear them, so please do share! My favorite so far? Michael Bernstein, the vice chairman of Counselor Top 40 supplier Polyconcept and my most beloved of all my BFFs, shared his “greatest weakness and indulgence” with me recently: “Cigarettes and you, Michele.” Here’s hoping he doesn’t give up the latter!

By the way, a hearty thanks to all of you who e-mailed me — after reading of my penchant for “sloth,” one of the deadly sins, in my last blog posting — that the History Channel is featuring a new series, “Seven Deadly Sins” week starting on Monday, 12/29 at 9:00 p.m. EST, spotlighting one sin on each of the seven nights. They have an ironic sense of humor over there at the History Channel — the week kicks off with a bang tonight with “Lust,” “Gluttony” is on New Year’s Eve and my beloved “Sloth” is on New Year’s Day. I will be commemorating the High Holy Day for lazy, self-indulgent people everywhere with some celebratory napping.

So I hope you all have a fabulous 2009 and I look forward to seeing you at upcoming shows! I’ll be at the PSI Dusseldorf Show (Europe’s largest promotional products show — so huge, in fact, that it dwarfs the PPAI Vegas Show) next week, the always-awesome PPACanada Show in Toronto from January 23-27 and the ASI Dallas Show from February 4-6 (one of my favorites), and will be a blogging and photo snapping fiend at each show. If you see me, come over and say hi!

In conclusion, I’d like to think that Hunter S. Thompson, the crazy gonzo journalist, excess-embracing loon and one near and dear to my heart, had it right when considering one’s goals in life: “Maybe it all comes down to this,” Thompson said. “Laughing loud, drinking much, sleeping late, having fun, getting wild and driving fast on empty streets with nothing in mind except falling in love and not getting arrested.”

So here’s to an awesome 2008 and an even better 2009, aptly described with some lyrics from a song that always epitomizes optimism and hope to me, from the musical “Rent,” about a year in a life… 

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Moments so dear.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights
In cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
In five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure
A year in the life?
How about love?
How about love?
How about love? Measure in love

Cheers and Happy New Year!

— M

A Few of My Favorite Things…

Filed under: Editorial, Fun, Personal

Hi Everyone —

As we’re in the midst of the holiday season and the year’s almost finished, I’m going to take a page out of Oprah’s book and devote some time to a sampling of the coolest items that wowed me this year and made me swoon — both from in and outside the industry. Unfortunately, unlike Oprah, I won’t be giving away any cars, houses or bras.

So here, without further ado, are my favorite things (note that “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens” didn’t make the cut… ; ) ).

More next week and cheers!

— M

PS: If there were any wow-worthy products that you found this year, post them below — I’d love to see them!

If I was giving out an award for “Most Creative Ad Specialty of 2008,” this would be a lock because it ROCKS. On one side of the plastic card there are perforated guitar picks that can be imprinted with any custom design or logo; the back has room for your name, phone number and e-mail address. How’s that for the coolest businesscard EVER?
Available from Pikcard; (800) 596-7074 (ext. 303); www.pikcard.com

I love that this photo keychain wallet is small enough to be unobtrusive but dainty enough to be cute. As I don’t have children (something that causes scores of people to cheer) I could put a photo of each of my kittens — Monkey and Mouse — in these heart-shaped photo slots. Well, if not for the fact that my editorial colleague Joe Haley, the star of The Joe Show, staunchly maintains that I’m only six months away from being a full-blown Crazy Cat Lady, “dressing them up in doll clothes and having weirdo little tea parties.”
Available from Express Pens (asi/53411); www.expresspens.com

I can talk the ears off corn, but for some people, making conversation — especially at a networking event where you don’t know anyone — is the equivalent of gargling with shards of glass. These cards, though, make it easy. They ask personal questions (“What movie made you laugh until you cried?” My answer: The Birdcage), business questions (“What would you like to add to your job description?” My answer: Maintain a consistent napping schedule), and even custom questions that can be created for your company, which are sure to get people talking.
Available from Custom Topics (404) 815-0272; www.customtopics.net

The excessive bling surrounding this travel mug just screams “diva,” which is exactly what this diva does when she doesn’t get her way. I love that you could be drinking your favorite beverage and simultaneously check to make sure that your lipstick isn’t smeared like a demonic, crazy clown.
Available from Berney-Karp Inc. (asi/40261); www.ceramic-source.com

From Selco’s “Hard Core” line of edgy, street-inspired timepieces, the “Flaming Ice” is just so rock star cool. Using three-dimensional casting, authentic mother-of-pearl, Swarovski crystals, diamonds and white steel, this wearable work of art is signed and serialized by the artist, Steve Soffa.
Available from Selco (asi/86230); www.selcotime.com

From the company I’ve adored — for a multitude of reasons — since I first started in the industry, this combination iPod docking/charging station, mini-stereo, AM/FM radio and alarm clock works with all iPods (including iPhones) and some MP3 players. The alarm clock features snooze/sleep functions (which those who embrace sloth as I do just love…), three alarm settings and a detachable remote control that operates the snooze function and iPod/MP3 player.
Available from Leed’s (asi/66887); www.leedsworld.com

I have a lot of fun toys in my office, which attracts co-workers to come in and play — they compare it to “Wonkaville” or Fantasy Land. This unique note holder just adds to the mix.
Available from PromoBiz (asi/79903); www.promobizusa.com

Oh, let me count the ways I love Lexon, a Paris-based industry supplier. Quite simply, its products are so beautifully designed they make me want to weep. I learned about Lexon years ago, when I traveled to Paris in 2000 with some Norwood friends to see the debut of Lexon’s new line and to be there when its iconic “Tykho” rubber radio (shown here) — which had just scored the cover of Time magazine’s “Design” issue — was inducted into the Louvre as one of the “Best Designed Products of the 20th Century.” Since then, when I see Lexon’s items at the PSI shows in Dusseldorf or Paris, I make a beeline to the booth, find the company’s impossibly-charming owner, Rene Adda, and worship at the altar of his breathtakingly-designed offerings. As I consider every one of their items to be an objet d’art, just check out their swanky Web site, www.lexon-design.com, and prepare to be wowed.
I am a huge fan of Swarovski’s jewelry line and consequently love any product that uses its crystals as embellishments. Here are two: a delicate jeweled box covered in crystals and a singular sparkler discreetly placed in one of the most stylish pens I’ve ever coveted.
Available from Logomark (asi/67866); www.logomark.com

This just brings me back to the days of frivolous fun, when all it took was Sea Monkeys, pet rocks and invisible dogs to make me giggle with delight. Will this Magic 8 ball, which can be fully custom imprinted on its surface, amuse the frak out of anyone who receives it? “The outlook is good… .”
Available from Prime Line (asi/79530); www.primeline.com

As the joke goes here in the editorial department, my partying has taken such a toll on my looks (so says my mother, Judge Judye) that I have to spackle on my make-up with a putty knife. This fashion-forward cosmetics and toiletries bag is large enough for all my smoke-and-mirrors tricks of the trade. Just avoid looking at me in direct sunlight…
Available from Gemline (asi/56070); www.gemline.com

If you know me, you know that I’d rather have my spleen removed with a soup spoon than deal with math on any level. This Hydraulic calculator has such a whimsical bubbly shape that it numbs the pain of interacting with numbers for me. It features a calendar, month, time, time zone display, world time for 16 cities and two alarms, a robotic “open” slide and comes in metallic blue (my favorite) and silver.
Available from Dard Products Inc. (asi/48500); www.tagmaster.net

One of the (many) banes of my existence is how my jewelry — especially my necklaces — gets tangled together. This sleek and sexy jewelry stand is the perfect, unique remedy.
Available from Steel Threads (asi/89475); www.steelthreads.com

This handy pill carousel is the perfect item for those near and dear to me here at ASI who have to deal with my antics, listen to the nonsense that flies out of my mouth on a daily basis, and self-medicate with Advil (or stronger) because of it. This list of long-suffering souls includes, but is not limited to: Every member of the editorial department, but especially Joe Haley, Andy Cohen and Melinda Ligos; in-house tech geek Jeremy Young; senior Web developer Samantha Tucker (the saint who posts these voluminous blog manifestos for me), COO Vince Bucolo; senior vice president Rich Fairfield; and last but certainly not least, president/CEO Tim Andrews. Help ease their pain with this bright white pill case with a translucent blue lid and seven compartments to hold a week’s worth of medications. The wheel rotates at the push of a button and there’s a combination lock to discourage sharing.
Available from Sweda (asi/90305); www.swedausa.com

When I saw this, I thought, “that is just one of the most unique ideas, even if it’s something I wouldn’t use.” Why wouldn’t I? Because I’m more of a soaking-in-a-hot-bubble-bath kind of girl. This item is ideal for local governments, hotels, eco-groups, water companies or anyone touting the conservation of natural resources through limiting one’s shower to five minutes.
Available from All-In-One (asi/34256); www.allinoneline.com

Want to bring the bling? Do it in over-the-top style with this rhinestone-studded dogtag, shown here in a Sex and the City design. My crazy chica pal Julie Ditchik (that’s “Jules” to you and me…) gave this to me at the SAAC Show in Long Beach this past August and I cherish it!
Available from Pinnacle Designs (asi/78140); www.pinnacledesigns.com

And now, some items for the degenerate in us all (or at least the people to whom I gravitate). When the economy goes bad, sin is in, my little heathens — though in Michele World, it always has a place of honor. Here then, are some gift suggestions for those of us who know the special pleasures of being bad… ; )

In case you didn’t know it, music begins and ends with the Rolling Stones in my book. I stand in awe of Mick’s ability — in his mid-60s — to strut around the stage like a chicken in little leather pants singing lyrics like “I used to be your rooster, now I’m just your c**k” and truly believe that miracles do exist, if for no other reason than the fact that Keith — looking remarkably simian, like he’s de-evolving — abides. Throw my love of The Stones together with my love of wine and you have quite the potent combination for revelry and mayhem. This company’s offering of Rolling Stones wine, available in many different types (Chardonnay, Pinot, etc.), all feature the notorious tongue and lips logo that was first introduced on the band’s classic 1971 album “Sticky Fingers” — the one whose cover had a photo of pants with a real zipper that actually unzipped at the crotch and that was the first album I bought, at the age of 13, much to my mother’s profound horror. The Classic Tongue “brand” perfectly captures the unabashed hedonism of the World’s Greatest Rock ‘N Roll Band.
Available from Celebration Cellars (asi/44366); www.celebrationcellars.com

And speaking of The Stones, one of my favorite songs from the Glimmer Twins is their ode to “Mother’s Little Helpers.” This whimsical “Quaaludes” cookie jar is from the hip and haute housewares designer Jonathan Adler, often featured in Vogue and a judge on Bravo TV’s “Top Design.” His tongue-in-cheek stance is to embrace excess with one of his candid canisters — perfect as gifts for all your wicked friends and favorite psychopharmacologists. Offered in black & white and powder blue & chocolate stripes (the version that currently sits in my office), this comes in other hilarious variations (“Downers,” “Uppers,” “Dolls”) and is ideal for when you’re beyond denial and want to stash in style.
Available from Jonathan Adler: www.jonathanadler.com

As the saying goes, one person’s virtue is another person’s vice. However, thanks to Captain Buzzkill — Pope Gregory I — we’re all saddled with perpetual guilt surrounding the Seven Deadly Sins: Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy and Pride. Now, while I’m sure I commit each of these on a daily basis, I’d like to take a moment to give a special shout-out to the one I hold near and dear to my heart: Sloth. If I’m riding the Highway to Hell, I’d like it to be because of my prodigious laziness. And though the sins remind me of that supremely creepy Brad Pitt/Morgan Freeman/Kevin Spacey movie Seven (guest-starring Gwyneth Paltrow’s boxed head), I still crave this “Seven Deadly Sins” gift set from D.L. & Co. Lighting the candles would be like paying homage to my Id.
Available from Gift Genius www.giftgenius.com