Sunday, January 30, 2005

time to blog the donuts, 1/30/05

Think you've seen everything on the internet? You've probably never seen this. A blog devoted to Dunkin' Donuts! The webmaster, Scott Lewis, explains it best: was created by Scott Lewis - a husband, father, and consultant - who loves Dunkin' Donuts original blend coffee. Currently (as of 01.01.2005) I have no affiliation with Dunkin' Donuts other than my regular purchase of 2 chocolate frosted donuts and a large coffee with extra cream and
extra sugar.

I created the site on a whim and nudge from a good friend and business partner; Ryan. We were out having dinner with friends and the subject of my Dunkin' Donuts coffee consumption came up and Ryan made the comment "You should create a blog about this." So with that seed planted, I went home and created

I'm impressed! You should check it out.

this is me, then | 1993

Yor friendly neighborhood blogger in his senior class portrait. This prop suit is as close as I've come to wearing a tuxedo.

2004's top smooth jazz songs

Here's a list, provided by a local talk radio/jazz station, of the top 100 smooth jazz tracks for 2004. The shocker when I looked at the list is that I only owned nine of the songs, which are shown in boldface:

  1. Dave Koz, All I See Is You (Capitol)
  2. Paul Brown, 24/7 (GRP/VMG)
  3. Paul Taylor, Steppin' Out (Peak)
  4. Peter White, Talkin' Bout Love (Columbia)
  5. Kim Waters, The Ride (Shanachie)
  6. Euge Groove, Livin' Large (Narada)
  7. Marc Antoine, Mediterraneo (Rendezvous)
  8. Richard Elliot, Sly (GRP/VMG)
  9. Jazzmasters, Puerto Banus (Trippin' 'N' Rhythm)
  10. Nick Colionne, High Flyin' (3 Keys Music)
  11. Michael Lington, Show Me (Rendezvous)
  12. Chris Botti, Indian Summer (Columbia)
  13. Praful, Sigh (Rendezvous)
  14. George Benson, Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise (GRP/VMG)
  15. Richard Smith, Sing A Song (A440)
  16. Gerald Albright, To The Max (GRP/VMG)
  17. Boney James, Here She Comes (Warner Bros.)
  18. Hil St. Soul, For The Love Of You (Shanachie)
  19. Joyce Cooling, Expression (Narada)
  20. Steve Cole, Everyday (Warner Bros.)
  21. Dave Koz, Honey-Dipped (Capitol)
  22. Diana Krall, Temptation (GRP/VMG)
  23. Paul Jackson, Jr., Walkin' (Blue Note/EMC)
  24. Michael McDonald, Ain't No Mountain High Enough (Motown/Universal)
  25. Wayman Tisdale, Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now (Rendezvous)
  26. Bass X, Vonni (Liquid 8)
  27. Brian Culbertson f/Norman Brown, Come On Up (Warner Bros.)
  28. Anita Baker, You're My Everything (Blue Note/Virgin)
  29. Rick Braun, Daddy-O (Warner Bros.)
  30. Mindi Abair, Flirt (GRP/VMG)
  31. Jimmy Sommers, Take My Heart (You Can Have It If You Want It) (Gemini/Higher Octave)
  32. Chris Botti, Back Into My Heart (Columbia)
  33. Ronny Jordan, At Last (N-Coded)
  34. Mindi Abair, Save The Last Dance (GRP/VMG)
  35. Candy Dulfer, Finsbury Park, Cafe 67 (Eagle Rock)
  36. Norah Jones, Sunrise (Blue Note/EMC)
  37. Paul Jackson, Jr., It's A Shame (Blue Note/EMC)
  38. Seal, Love's Divine (Warner Bros.)
  39. Kenny G., Malibu Dreams (Arista/RMG)
  40. Najee, Eye 2 Eye (N-Coded)
  41. Dan Siegel, In Your Eyes (Native Language)
  42. Richard Elliot, Your Secret Love (GRP/VMG)
  43. Seal, Touch (Warner Bros.)
  44. David Benoit, Watermelon Man (GRP/VMG)
  45. Daryl Hall, She's Gone (Rhythm & Groove/Liquid 8)
  46. Praful, Let The Chips Fall (Rendezvous)
  47. Marion Meadows, Sweet Grapes (Heads Up)
  48. Luther Vandross w/ Beyonce'. The Closer I Get To You (J/RMG)
  49. Norman Brown, Up 'N' At 'Em (Warner Bros.)
  50. Luther Vandross, Dance With My Father (J/RMG)
  51. Nick Colionne, It's Been Too Long (3 Keys Music)
  52. Simply Red, Sunrise ( Ink)
  53. Urban Knights, Got To Give It Up (Narada)
  54. Ramsey Lewis Trio, The In Crowd (Narada)
  55. Tim Bowman, Summer Groove (Liquid 8)
  56. Rick Braun, Green Tomatoes (Warner Bros.)
  57. Kim Waters, In Deep (Shanachie)
  58. David Sanborn, Comin' Home Baby (GRP/VMG)
  59. Paul Taylor, On The Move (Peak)
  60. Soul Ballet, Cream (215)
  61. Pamela Williams, Afterglow (Shanachie)
  62. Marc Antoine, Funky Picante (Rendezvous)
  63. Chieli Minucci, Kickin' It Hard (Shanachie)
  64. Chuck Loeb, eBop (Shanachie)
  65. Patti LaBelle, New Day (Def Soul/IDJMG)
  66. Jeff Lorber, Ain't Nobody (Samson/Gold Circle)
  67. Mindi Abair, Come As You Are (GRP/VMG)
  68. Lee Ritenour, Inner City Blues (GRP/VMG)
  69. Jeff Golub, Pass It On (GRP/VMG)
  70. Gladys Knight f/Edesio Alejandro, Feelin' Good (Vacilon) (Pyramid)
  71. Paul Hardcastle, Desire (Trippin' 'N' Rhythm)
  72. Kirk Whalum, Do You Feel Me (Warner Bros.)
  73. Euge Groove, Rewind (Warner Bros.)
  74. Alicia Keys, Fallin' (J)
  75. Fattburger, Evil Ways (Shanachie)
  76. David Sanborn, Isn't She Lovely (GRP/VMG)
  77. Michael McDonald, I Heard It Through The Grapevine (Motown/Universal)
  78. Peter White, How Does It Feel (Columbia)
  79. Walter Beasley, Precious Moments (N-Coded)
  80. Wayman Tisdale, Can't Hide Love (Atlantic)
  81. Richard Elliot, Corner Pocket (GRP/VMG)
  82. Nestor Torres, Maybe Tonight (Heads Up)
  83. Grady Nichols, Allright (Compendia)
  84. Alfonzo Blackwell, Funky Shuffle (Shanachie)
  85. Renee Olstead, A Love That Will Last (143/Reprise)
  86. Pieces Of A Dream, It's Go Time (Heads Up)
  87. Rick Braun, Use Me (Warner Bros.)
  88. Pete Belasco, Deeper (Compendia)
  89. Tha' Hot Club, I'm Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby (Shanachie)
  90. Queen Latifah, California Dreamin' (Vector)
  91. Down To The Bone, Cellar Funk (Narada)
  92. Peter White, Dreamwalk (Columbia)
  93. Gregg Karukas, Riverside Drive (N-Coded)
  94. Steve Cole, From The Start (Atlantic)
  95. Alkemx, Time To Lounge (Rendezvous)
  96. Eric Marienthal, Sweet Talk (Peak)
  97. Steve Oliver, Chips & Salsa (Koch)
  98. Michael McDonald, Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing (Motown/Universal
  99. Hall & Oates, Love TKO (U-Watch)
  100. Brian Bromberg, Bobblehead (A440)

Saturday, January 29, 2005

this is me, then | 1986

Don't I look orange? This is not the worst picture of your friendly neighborhood blogger, but it's the worst one I'm going to show. I'm glad the '80s are over.

Gunning to be BMOC

Ralph Lauren uses Hub to launch line for college market
By Keith Reed, Globe Staff and Lindsay Ann Crone, Globe Correspondent October 27, 2004

Ralph Lauren's latest designs didn't debut on catwalks in New York or Paris but inside a narrow storefront on Newbury Street.

The legendary apparel designer is using Boston's college town status to launch his new "Rugby" line and store, which are Lauren's attempt to capture a greater piece of the $27.5 billion 18-to-24-year-old apparel market in the United States. Rugby, which opened over the weekend, furthers Lauren's push to control where his merchandise is sold and how it is presented to customers by operating the stores himself.

It also makes Boston the launch pad for Lauren's first brand created exclusively for sale in his own stores, as opposed to offering pieces through department stores or other channels.

"This is an opportunity to continue to control our destiny as we have been with our Ralph Lauren Polo stores," said Charles Fagan, executive vice president of global brand development for Polo Ralph Lauren Corp.

"We're already differentiating ourselves pretty significantly in our luxury stores," he added. "The strategy is working there, and we feel it will work for Rugby as well."

Fagan said that about three-quarters of the merchandise sold in the 56 Polo Ralph Lauren stores worldwide are not offered anywhere else, but the Newbury Street Rugby store is the company's first that sells only merchandise unavailable elsewhere. Polo Ralph Lauren reported $2.6 billion in sales last year, with $1.2 billion coming from sales at its own stores.

Next year, the company plans to offer the Rugby label through its website, he said.

Fagan would not disclose specific sales goals for Rugby. The company, though, is unequivocal about its plans to use the preppy-chic Rugby to get into the wallets of well-heeled college kids and newly minted young workers, a segment where it admittedly has a gap. To woo college kids, the company will advertise heavily in campus papers.

That positions the collection squarely in the faces of one of the most free-spending apparel consumer groups. Shoppers between the ages of 18 and 24 spent $27.5 billion on clothes in the last 12 months, according to research firm NPD Fashionworld, of Port Washington, N.Y. That represents 16.2 percent of total apparel sales over the same period.

Young women outspent young men nearly 2-to-1, according to the NPD data. The new Rugby collection is made up of men's and women's clothes, with prices ranging from $78 for cashmere blend cable sweaters or corduroys, to $298 for tweed flannel suit separates.

Lauren, a designer notorious in fashion circles for being very involved in all aspects of his company, already has plans for Rugby stores in other cities with large college populations, including Chapel Hill, N.C. and Charlottesville, Va.

Boston was chosen to launch the brand in part because of its large concentration of college students and because Newbury Street fits with the company's strategy of clustering several stores nearby each other in urban shopping districts. There is already a Ralph Lauren store on Newbury Street.

Among young Newbury Street shoppers on Monday, the Rugby store got mixed reviews. Most said they liked the clothes, but a few were put off by the prices.

Rugby clothes "are not cheap, but are more reasonable," than those found in other Ralph Lauren stores, said Moneka Bahadur, an 18-year-old Boston University student. Added Liz Kauff, another 18-year-old BU student: "The prices are expensive. I can't afford [the clothes], but a lot of kids in the area can," she said.

Friday, January 28, 2005

this is me, then | 1997

Your friendly neighborhood blogger is very 'chill' in this 1997 picture. I'm just sitting on the floor watching TV in the family room. Dig the groovy fake leopard. In case you're wondering, my feet are as flat as boards, and my hand is too far over to the right to be doing anything gross : )

Cheney's green parka and boots stand out at solemn ceremony

Amid black overcoats and hats world leaders wore for a sombre ceremony at Auschwitz death camp, 27 January 2005, US Vice President Dick Cheney's green, furry-collared parka and knit ski cap drew harsh criticism from a US newspaper(AFP/File/Dimitar Dilkoff)
Amid black overcoats and hats world leaders wore for a sombre ceremony at Auschwitz death camp, 27 January 2005, US Vice President Dick Cheney's green, furry-collared parka and knit ski cap drew harsh criticism from a US newspaper(AFP/File/Dimitar Dilkoff)

OSWIECIM, Poland (AP) --Vice President Dick Cheney's utilitarian hooded parka and boots stood out amid the solemn formality of a ceremony commemorating the liberation of Nazi death camps, raising eyebrows among the fashion-conscious.

Cheney replaced the zipped-to-the-neck green parka he sported in Thursday's blowing snow and freezing wind with a more traditional black coat -- red tie and gray scarf showing underneath -- for his tour of Auschwitz on Friday.

Washington Post fashion writer Robin Givhan described Cheney's look at the sober and dignified 60th anniversary service as "the kind of attire one typically wears to operate a snow blower."

Cheney stood out in a sea of black-coated world leaders because he was wearing an olive drab parka with a fur-trimmed hood," Givhan wrote in Friday's Post, also mocking Cheney's knit ski cap embroidered with the words "Staff 2001" and his brown, lace-up hiking boots. "The vice president looked like an awkward child amid the well-dressed adults," she said.

marissa on bobbito's book

This was a great review of Where'd Did You Get Those: New York City's Sneaker Culture:1960-1987 by Bobbito Garcia written by Marissa Avila, who apparently did not spend much time on grammar in school. Sorry Marissa, much love:

For all you guys that have boxes from the floor to the ceiling, to the window to the wall and yes Jermaine I'm talking to you,this book should be staple of your collection (very fast).It's hard work and a lot of money in circulation trying to keep one step ahead of the game. To some, receiving a complement about your shoes is a natural high, or maybe buying shoes and being able to say "i never wore those".

Bobbito Garcia has captured what was done by so many the art of buying and wearing shoes with pride. But most immortally being able to remember stories that came with them for free. From 1960-1987 was about street creed, college and pro's basketball teams and those beats that made dancers do crazy moves. It was all about style and looking hot.

This book has so many photos, advertisements and most immortally shoes you have never seen before and shoes that many would like to forget they wore.(Pink nikes, not hot guys);And the future of sneakers, and what it is now- a shoe game war.

This book is jammed like a jelly roll. It has so many stories about preserving sneak gems.If you would like to be educated and know what many might not, pick up this book. It may be the only thing you would let people borrow.

This book will have you buying with meaning in no time. So watch your backs, wallets and ebay.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Blue-Light Special Re-Appears at Kmart

Kmart billboard, Detroit.  This 2002 billboard announced the return of the Kmart blue-light special, which it discontinued again in 2003.  The blue-light special made a brief re-appearance in Kmart stores this month, but the company says it has no long-term plans to use the storied promotion.

TROY, Mich. (AP) - The blue-light special made a brief re-appearance in Kmart stores this month, but the company says it has no long-term plans to use the storied promotion.

The retailer advertised a ``blue-light event'' for clearance items in most of its stores on Jan. 15 and 16, said Stephen Pagnani, a spokesman for Troy-based Kmart Holding Corp.

But he emphasized that the company is not permanently bringing back the blue light in its advertising and in-store promotions.

``We have no long-term plans to use it,'' Pagnani said Thursday. ``We may occasionally use it.''

He added: ``We know there's some recognition (of the phrase) among our customers.''

Kmart started using a flashing blue light to direct customers to unadvertised sale items beginning in 1965. But in the late 1980s, it lost its luster as it became another way of getting rid of unwanted merchandise and damaged goods.

Kmart reintroduced the Blue Light Special in 2001 after a 10-year absence. However, it gave up on it the following year.

goodbye mr. johnson | famed architect passes at age 98

Philip Johnson, who went from enfant terrible to elder statesman of American architecture, died Tuesday at the compound surrounding the Glass House, the residence he built for himself in New Canaan, Conn. He was 98.

(This obituary is excerpted from The New York Times of Jan. 27, 2005.)

Philip Johnson, who went from enfant terrible to elder statesman of American architecture, died Tuesday at the compound surrounding the Glass House, the residence he built for himself in New Canaan, Conn. He was 98.

His death was disclosed by David Whitney, his companion of 45 years.

Johnson first became famous as an impassioned advocate of modern architecture, and his early writings helped establish the reputation of European modernists like Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius in this country. He later experimented with decorative classicism, embraced post-modernism and then returned to modernism.

His own architecture received mixed reviews. He was often accused of pandering to fashion and of designing buildings that were facile and shallow. Yet he created several designs, including the Glass House, the sculpture garden of the Museum of Modern Art and the pre-Columbian gallery at Dumbarton Oaks, that are widely considered among architectural masterworks of the 20th Century.

He was the first winner of the Pritzker Prize, the $100,000 award established in 1979 by the Pritzker family of Chicago to honor an architect of international stature. In 1978, he won the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects, the highest award the American profession bestows on any of its members.

As an architect, he made his mark arguing the importance of the aesthetic side of architecture and claimed that he had no interest in buildings except as works of art. Yet he was so eager to build that he willingly took commissions from real estate developers who refused to meet his aesthetic standards. He liked to refer to himself, with only some irony, as a whore.

And in the 1930s, this man who believed that art ranked above all else took a controversial detour into right-wing politics, suspending his career to work on behalf of Gov. Huey Long of Louisiana and later the radio priest Father Charles Coughlin, and expressing more than passing admiration for Hitler.

That foray into fascism was over by the time the United States entered World War II, and in the mid-1950s he sought to publicly atone to Jews by designing a synagogue in Port Chester, N.Y., for no fee.

A self-crafted celebrity, he became the best-known living architect in the 1980s and 90s, a common sight on television programs and magazine covers.

His early work was heavily influenced by Mies. But in the late 1950s, just after he had collaborated with Mies on the Seagram Building on Park Avenue, he introduced elements of classical architecture into his buildings, beginning a long quest to find ways of connecting contemporary architecture to historical form. It was a quest that would begin with highly abstracted versions of classicism in the 1960s and culminate in a much more literal use of the architectural forms of the past in his revivalist skyscrapers of the 1980s.

That phase of Johnson’s career included such well-known monuments as the classically detailed pink-granite AT&T Building (now the Sony building) on New York’s Madison Avenue, which he completed in 1984 with John Burgee, then his partner; the Republic Bank tower (now NCNB Center) in Houston, which used elements of Flemish Renaissance architecture; the Transco Tower (now the Williams Tower) in Houston, which recapitulated the setback forms of a romantic 1920s tower in glass; and the PPG Place in Pittsburgh, a reflective glass tower whose Gothic form copied the shape of the tower of the Houses of Parliament in London.

His 90th birthday, in July 1996, was marked by symposiums, lectures, an outpouring of essays in his honor and back-to-back dinners at two venerable New York institutions he had played a major role in creating: the Museum of Modern Art, whose department of architecture and design he joined in 1930, and the Four Seasons restaurant, which he designed as part of the Seagram Building in 1958.

Born to wealth in Cleveland in 1906, Johnson went to Harvard to study Greek, but became excited by architecture and spent the years immediately after his graduation in 1927 touring Europe and looking at the early buildings of the developing modern architecture movement. He teamed up with Henry-Russell Hitchcock, at that time the movement’s chief academic partisan in the United States, and their travels together resulted in their book “The International Style,” published in 1932, which played a major role in introducing Americans to the work of European modernists like Mies, Gropius and Le Corbusier.

In 1930, Johnson joined the architecture department at the then-new Museum of Modern Art in New York. There, he sponsored exhibitions on contemporary themes and arranged for visits by Gropius, Le Corbusier and Mies, for whom he also negotiated his first American commission.

Johnson left the museum in 1936 to pursue his political agenda, dividing his time among Berlin, Louisiana and his family’s home in Ohio. By the summer of 1940, his infatuation with right-wing politics had faded and, in 1941, he enrolled at the Harvard Graduate School of Design to begin the process of becoming an architect.

Glass House, New Canaan, CT.

After wartime service in the United States Army, he returned in 1946 to the Museum of Modern Art. At the same time, he began to slowly build up an architectural practice of his own, combining it with his career as a writer and curator. In 1946, he designed a small, boxy house, highly influenced by Mies, for a client in Sagaponack, N.Y., on Long Island. But his first significant building, and still perhaps his most famous, was for his own use: the Glass House in New Canaan, completed in 1949 with its counterpoint, a brick guest house. The serene Glass House, a 56-foot-by-32-foot rectangle, is generally considered one of the 20th Century’s greatest residential structures.

He and Whitney, a curator and art dealer, lived for many years in a town house on East 52nd Street that Johnson had originally designed as a guest house for John D. Rockefeller 3d; then in an elaborately decorated apartment in Museum Tower above the Museum of Modern Art; and always on weekends in the Glass House compound.

He had lunch daily amid other prominent and powerful New Yorkers at a special table in the corner of the Grill Room of the Four Seasons. For years, his table functioned as a kind of miniature architectural salon. In the evenings, he was frequently seen at exclusive social events, first mostly by himself and, in the last decade -- as he felt greater ease in making his relationship with Whitney public -- with his companion. He was among the few architects whose comings and goings were considered worthy of notice in the gossip columns.

In addition to Whitney, Johnson is survived by a sister, Jeannette Dempsey, now 102, of Cleveland.

celebrating the cool

I found this in the Cornell Daily Sun:

The A.B.C. Guide to Style
by Ari Cantor, Sun Contributor

Clarks Wallabee Boots
Ever wonder why Ghostface Killah of Wu-Tang Clan and geriatric men waiting for price checks on hemorrhoid cream both rock this boot? It's because they're the most comfortable piece of footgear ever put on this planet, my ignorant friend. Originally designed with two eyeholes for lacing, this shoe is so loose and chill that even laces can't choke your style. The crazy rubber compound sole makes walking around your local podiatric shoe store feel like wearing marshmallow bags for kicks. For acceptance in Staten Isle, rock the chocolate-colored ones.

Nike Air Jordan VI
If you didn't have this shoe back in elementary school, your parents didn't love you or didn't have $100 to drop on your ankle-biting behind. As any sneaker fiend will tell you, these were the best Jordans ever crafted.

Not only did they feature the super slick "double hole" rubber tongue to show everyone you meant business in the playground, these sneakers were also the first Nikes to ever have clear rubber soles. This pair of kicks was the reason why prep school kids got jumped for their gym bags near subway entrances.

Bic Cristal Ballpoint Pen
Some ballpoint pens were better made then others. This was one of them. Originally designed as a way to easily sort through pens by the color of their ink, the clear "Cristal" case was the first ballpoint to display how much ink was left (preventing panic attacks during blue book final exams).

Not only was this pen a great visual indicator of ink-life, the "Cristal" housing created one of the most rigid disposable pens on the market. Finally, inmates could tattoo themselves using the metal ballpoint insert and then smear the ink by dripping it from the clear case, while school children shot spitballs across elementary classrooms using spiral notebook paper fringe. If you've never broken a tooth chewing on one of these bad boys or haven't attempted to pop one apart, you're not American.

Eugene McDaniels -- Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse
Without a doubt, the most sampled and abused album in hip-hop history. From the Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique to A Tribe Called Quest's The Low End Theory, you've probably heard the proverbs of the Left Reverend McD. Released in 1971 under Atlantic Records, Headless never received the critical acclaim it deserved due to its angry lyrical messages and experimental soul rhythms. McDaniels currently resides in Maine, but his work is without a doubt hidden somewhere on your playlist.

this is me, then | 1981

Your friendly neighborhood blogger gets a kiss from Mom as Allen mugs for the camera in this 1981 photo. I was six, and this was my party, as if the cake wasn't a tip-off.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

more merger news (updates)

Sears store
Typical Sears mall store

Sears Not Llikely To March Aaway From Malls

If Sears, Roebuck and Co. is plotting a mass exodus from the nation's shopping malls after it merges with Kmart Holding Corp., then real estate executive Robert Michaels doesn't yet see it.

The General Growth Properties Inc. president said his company met with Sears recently to find out how serious the Hoffman Estates department store chain is about exiting some mall locations if it converts hundreds of freestanding Kmart stores to Sears stores.

"There are a number of Sears stores we'd like to get back," Michaels commented Jan. 16 at the National Retail Federation convention in New York.

Sears, however, didn't "have any stores that we were talking about that they wanted to give back," Michaels said. Sears' mall stores "do quite well," he added.

Any plans that Sears has to uproot itself from the traditional enclosed shopping mall would take a "a long time" to execute, he figures.

In Michaels' eyes, "an ideal tenant mix" includes Nordstrom Inc. and Target Corp. "I'd replace a number of department stores with Target all day long," he said.

Sears, whose merger with Kmart was announced in November and is expected to close in March, is a tenant in more than 100 of the 209 properties that General Growth has interests in, records show.

Michaels' comments dovetail with those made Friday by Deutsche Bank analyst Bill Dreher after rumors surfaced that Federated Department Stores Inc. and May Department Stores Co. were in early merger talks.

The Federal Trade Commission, Dreher explained, could force Federated and May to divest scores of stores to overcome antitrust hurdles. That, in turn, could result in the supply of available retail space outpacing demand, he said.

If such a glut were to occur in the retail industry, Dreher doubts that Edward Lampert, chairman of the merged entity that'll be known as Sears Holdings Corp., would also flood the market with property.

"While Sears has at least 200 stores, and likely closer to 300 stores, they'd like to get out of, we wouldn't expect Eddie Lampert to participate in a fire sale and instead wait for demand to catch up to supply," Dreher said in a Jan. 21 note to clients.

Marshall Field's, Chicago
Marshall Field's, Chicago

M&A Talk

Less than a week before the rumors surfaced about Federated and May, the topic of retail mergers and acquisitions arose during a panel discussion Jan. 16 at the national retailers' meeting.

Goldman Sachs analyst George Strachan told the crowd that the rationale for the deal between Sears and Kmart had been fueled by Sears' desire to expand away from shopping malls and Kmart's willingness to sell excess real estate.

The deal's timing, he figures, was due to the Nov. 5 disclosure that Vornado Realty Trust had bought a 4.3 percent stake in Sears. "This is a one-off deal," Strachan said of Sears and Kmart. "It doesn't mean we'll see a waterfall of M&A activity in retail."

But another panelist, Mesirow Financial Chief Economist Diane Swonk, said she foresaw an acceleration of either deals or store expansion programs because many retailers had plenty of cash. The department store sector, she said, is particularly vulnerable to a retail industry shakeup.

"There are too many department stores out there," Swonk said.

Adidas wins trademark lawsuit against rival Nike

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Sneaker giant Nike has been slapped on the wrist by a German court.

That, after the Oregon-based manufacturer tried to sell a pair of workout pants sporting two parallel stripes down the seam.

The district court in Dusseldorf, Germany, has ruled that the two stripes are too similar in appearance to the three stripes logo of German rival, Adidas.

Nike has been ordered to discontinue selling the offending pants. The company is also expected to be fined over one million dollars in damage.

Adidas was founded more than eight decades ago in the German town of Herzogenaurach (HAIR-TSO-GA-NOW-RACK). The company registered the three stripes in 1949 and has aggressively fought any company that tries to use a similar design.

Earlier this month, Adidas took Abercrombie and Fitch to court, claiming the company copied the design in their latest line of casual wear.

john varvatos on style

john varvatos

The classic New York menswear designer weighs in on avoiding cheap shoes, men looking bad in uniform, and why Brad Pitt should dress more like Nicole Kidman.
  1. Shoes are very important. You'll see guys who put on a great-looking suit and have these awful black, chunky, square-toed shoes on. They look like they cost $59. It totally ruins the look.
  2. Men are definitely influenced by what they see on TV. Remember the stupid Bill Cosby sweater? People thought, If it's okay for Bill Cosby to wear it, then so can I. I mean, God, I got that Cosby sweater. And it was, like, $400.
  3. Leather pants are not easy for a guy to wear. Suede is better because it's not shiny. I was in Vegas the other day, and I saw all these guys wearing leather pants with a black baggy T-shirt, the belt with the silver things, and the pants up to here. You know, there's just nothing sexy about that at all.
  4. You should try on a bunch of different jeans. You should look in the mirror and figure out which pair makes your ass and package look the best.
  5. If you're balding and feel like you should use Rogaine or you want to get hair transplants, go for it. But never do the weave, man.
  6. I hate when I see guys who have a uniform. If I see one more guy wearing a striped blazer with jeans and a hoodie.... It's the same thing in Italy. You go over there and every guy is wearing the exact same pair of pants and shoes. Mix it up. Wear a vest with a rumpled button-down underneath.
  7. Take care of your skin. You don't want to look like the graying, bald, puffy guy. You go to the gym. You care about the clothes you wear. You should care about your face as well.
  8. A great wool seersucker or worsted linen is just as important as the cut. It's like your fingerprint, separating you from everyone else.
  9. The bag you carry completely depends on where you live. In L.A. guys don't carry bags because they drive everywhere. In New York people walk, so they need to carry everything with them. I have this black, hobo-looking thing with a shoulder strap. But if you're going to a board meeting, don't bring a shoulder bag or a briefcase. You don't need that much stuff. Carry an attaché.
  10. Pay attention to detail. There's no difference between noticing a gorgeous door hinge or the lines of a couch and clothes.
  11. There are not a lot of people who are unique dressers. Nicole Kidman certainly is. I used to say it about Brad Pitt, before he started being dressed by stylists.

this is me, then | 1998

In 1998, your friendly neighborhood blogger graduated from college. This isn't a great picture, but it is signifigant.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

this is me, then | 1976

Your friendly neighborhood blogger strikes a pose for this 1976 photo. Look at all that hair!

water-skiers for bush

What your leisure pursuits say about your politics

In celebration—or at least acknowledgment—of Inauguration Day, the New York Times prepared a list, compiled by Scarborough Research, of the leisure activities most likely to predispose one toward voting Republican.
  1. Water-skiing
  2. Volunteer work
  3. Snowmobiling
  4. Ice-skating
  5. Downhill skiing
  6. Hunting
  7. Playing musical instruments
  8. Golf
  9. Powerboating
  10. Horseback riding

Monday, January 24, 2005

this is me, then | 1996

Your friendly neighborhood blogger has never had great hand-eye coordination, so of course the most logical thing to have at his 21st birthday party is a piñata...right? Well, my blind ass got to hit one of these things in 1996. It actually was pretty fun, as was the party.

Most people would go out drinking with all their buddies on their 21st brithday. I just had one buddy, my friend Todd Martin, and a bunch of paying customers. My mom turned my birthday into a fund-raiser for her country club! Oh, well, we made some money and I had a great time.

That's my mom, right there beside me in the striped shirt.

Steelers Get Within 31-20 of Patriots

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis runs in for a five-yard touchdown despite the defensive efforts of New England Patriots cornerback Eugene Wilson during the third quarter of the AFC Championship game in Pittsburgh Sunday, Jan. 23, 2005. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis runs in for a five-yard touchdown despite the defensive efforts of New England Patriots cornerback Eugene Wilson during the third quarter of the AFC Championship game in Pittsburgh Sunday, Jan. 23, 2005. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

PTTSBURGH (AP) - The New England Patriots were doing their best to ruin Keystone State football fans' dreams of an all-Pennsylvania Super Bowl, but the Pittsburgh Steelers were still hanging on. Hines Ward's 30-yard touchdown reception from Ben Roethlisberger and a fourth-quarter field goal cut the defending champions' lead to 31-20 in the AFC championship game Sunday.

Roethlisberger, who threw two interceptions in the first half, one of which was returned 87 yards for a score by Rodney Harrison, threw to Ward on fourth and 5 with 2:35 left in the quarter. Roethlisberger also had a key 6-yard run for a first down on the drive.

The Steelers opened the quarter with a touchdown drive, capped by Jerome Bettis' 5-yard run, but the Patriots responded with a 25-yard touchdown run from Corey Dillon.

Everything went the Patriots' way in the first half. Tom Brady threw a 60-yard strike to Deion Branch and a 9-yard pass to David Givens, and Harrison's score made it 24-3. Brady was 7-of-11 for 135 yards and no interceptions in the half.

Roethlisberger's first interception went to Eugene Wilson early in the game, and Wilson returned it to the Pittsburgh 48. The Patriots moved to the 30, and Adam Vinatieri kicked a high-arcing 48-yard field goal.

The kick, which came with the temperature hovering at 11 degrees and a 9 mph wind in Vinatieri's face, matched the longest at Heinz Field since the stadium opened four years ago. Last week, Jets kicker Doug Brien missed field goals from 47 and 43 yards in the final two minutes of regulation that would have won the game for New York.

On the Steelers' next possession, it was Bettis' turn to give the ball back. Bettis, who had a rare fumble last week, coughed it up after a run up the middle on fourth and 1. It was recovered by Mike Vrabel, and the Patriots took over at their own 40.

On the very next play, Brady — a two-time Super Bowl MVP — hit Branch perfectly in stride for the score with 6:49 left in the opening quarter.

The Steelers answered with a 43-yard field goal by Jeff Reed with 1:22 left in the period.

The winner faces the Philadelphia Eagles in Jacksonville, Fla., on Feb. 6. The Eagles dispatched the Atlanta Falcons 27-10 for the NFC crown.

The Steelers beat the Patriots 34-20 on Oct. 31 in Pittsburgh, ending New England's record 21-game winning streak. But the Patriots had neither Branch nor running back Corey Dillon in that game. The Steelers outrushed the Patriots 221-5 then, and New England's six rushing attempts were the fewest for an NFL team in 71 years.

On Sunday, Dillon had 24 yards in the first half, while Branch had two catches for 105 yards and one run for 14 yards.

goodbye johnny | the last monologue

Johnny Carson at the end of his final show on May 22, 1992. Mr. Carson, who dominated late-night television for 30 years, died Sunday. He was 79 years old. (Douglas C. Pizac/Associated Press)

After almost three decades of jokes and pantomimed golf strokes, Johnny Carson delivered his final monologue May 22, 1992 as host of "The Tonight Show." This is what he said.

Around the studio, we are still on an emotional high from last night; we have not come down yet. I want to thank Robin Williams and Bette Midler for last night, for giving us an excellent show. They were absolutely sensational.

The show tonight is our farewell show; it's going to be a little bit quieter. It's not going to be a performance show. One of the questions people have been asking me, especially this last month, is, "What's it like doing 'The Tonight Show,' and what does it mean to me?"

Well, let me try to explain it. If I could magically, somehow, that tape you just saw, make it run backwards. I would like to do the whole thing over again. It's been a hell of a lot of fun. As an entertainer, it has been the great experience of my life, and I cannot imagine finding something in television after I leave tonight that would give me as much joy and pleasure, and such a sense of exhilaration, as this show has given me. It's just hard to explain.

Now it's a farewell show. There's a certain sadness among the staff, a little melancholy. But look on the bright side: you won't have to read or hear one more story about my leaving this show. The press coverage has been absolutely tremendous, and we are very grateful. But my God, the Soviet Union's end did not get this kind of publicity. The press has been very decent and honest with me, and I thank them for that . . . That's about it.

The greatest accolade I think I received: G.E. named me "Employee of the Month." And God knows that was a dream come true.

I don't like saying goodbye. Farewells are a little awkward, and I really thought about this -- no joke -- wouldn't it be funny, instead of showing up tonight, putting on a rerun? NBC did not find that funny at all.

Next question I get is what am I gonna do? Well, I have not really made any plans. But the events of this last week have helped me make a decision. I am going to join the cast of Murphy Brown, and become a surrogate father to that kid.

During the run on the show there have been seven United States Presidents, and thankfully for comedy there have been eight Vice Presidents of the United States. Now I know I have made some jokes at the expense of Dan Quayle, but I really want to thank him tonight for making my final week so fruitful.

Here is an interesting statistic that may stun you. We started the show Oct. 2, 1962. The total population of the Earth was 3 billion 100 million people. This summer 5 billion 500 million people, which is a net increase of 2 billion 400 million people, which should give us some pause. A more amazing statistic is that half of those 2 billion 400 million will soon have their own late-night TV show.

Now, originally NBC came and said, what we would like you to do in the final show, is to make it a two-hour prime-time special with celebrities, and a star-studded audience. And I said, well, I would prefer to end like we started -- rather quietly, in our same time slot, in front of our same shabby little set. It is rather shabby. We offered it to a homeless shelter and they said 'No, thank you.' I am taking the applause sign home -- putting it in the bedroom. And maybe once a week just turning it on.

But we do have a V.P.I. audience -- V.P.I. audience? We could have had that, too. What I did was ask the members of the staff and the crew to invite their family, relatives and friends, and they did; with some other invited guests. My family is here tonight; my wife, Alex, my sons Chris and Cory. My brother Dick and my sister Katherine, a sprinkling of nephews and nieces. And I realized that being an offspring of someone who is constantly in the public eye is not easy. So guys, I want you to know that I love you; I hope that your old man has not caused you too much discomfort. It would have been a perfect evening if their brother Rick would have been here with us, but I guess life does what it is supposed to do. And you acccept it and you go on.

About tonight's show. This is not really a performance show. This is kind of a look-back retrospective. We are going to show you some moments in time. Some images of the many people, and there have been some 23,000 people. We are going to show you a little excerpt of how the show is put together, so go get some more cheese dip and we'll be back in just a moment.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

this is me, then | 2001

This is your friendly neighborhood blogger at work in 2001, just after getting the job at LMW. The guy in the background is my friend Ken.

cowgill hall

The following four photos I found on a Virginia Tech photo database my friend Ken told me about. They are of Cowgill Hall, the main architecture building at Tech. Of course, some of you already knew that : ) Cowgill is where I spent my formative architecture-studying years in college. I know the building like the back of my hand, still.

The Montgomery Ward-esque architecture was a little much at first, especially when one considers it was surrounded by the neo-Gothic excesses of the rest of the campus, but I grew to like it a lot; not just for what it was, but for what it wasn't as well. It's the only building visible from the Drillfield without a single piece of 'Hokie-stone,' the predominant building material at Tech, or brick. While several Modern buildings were built in its wake that emulated details from it, Cowgill is the only one that doesn't look ridiculous in a modern context.

Cowgill's changed somewhat since these photos were taken. The plaza has been dug up and a new building now resides under it and connects to Cowgill, with huge skylights where the trees used to be, adding to its severity. That said, I can say without question that it's still a good building, functionally and architecturally. Enjoy.

Cowgill Hall, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Vrginia, shortly after opening, 1969 (University Libraries, Virginia Tech)

Cowgill Plaza, pretty much how I remember it, though this picture is from the mid-'80s (University Libraries, Virginia Tech)

I used to sit somewhere in the middle of this picture during first-year lab back in the mid-'90s. Picture is from 1980 (University Libraries, Virginia Tech)

The dramatic rear elevation, 1970 (University Libraries, Virginia Tech)

belk @ eastlnad mall | is it closing?

Belk, Eastland Mall, Charlotte, North Carolina (outisthorough)

The news couldn't be worse for Eastland Mall in Charlotte.

The Charlotte Observer reports today that developers General Growth Properties Inc. of Chicago and Charlotte's Childress Klein Properties are teaming on The Bridges at Mint Hill at Interstate 485 and Lawyers Road. This new development is currently planned as a 1.3 million square foot upscale open-air retail and entertainment center anchored by a 180,000 square foot Belk store. The new shopping center plans to open in 2007. The developers also plan to include two other large anchor stores, though the names of those retailers were not announced.

This developemnt is within eight miles of 30-year-old Eastland Mall and would serve a substantially more upscale clientele than the east Charlotte mall, siphoning off what remains of those customers at Eastland. Though Belk is denying rumors that they plan to close their Eastland store when the new center opens, they have made no secret of their displeasure with the demographic changes at the struggling mall and have slowly reduced the breadth and quality of the merchandise lines at the store over the past several years.

Eastland is on the verge of a major revival, with community leaders and developers Glimcher Corporation attempting to evolve the mall into a safer, more innovative community destination. It has never been clear if Belk was interested in being a part of the future of the mall, and company officials are taking the public stance of 'wait-and-see' in regards to the 160,000 square foot store.

My take on the issue: it's a goner. I've seen this happen so many times before with other Belk stores in minority neighborhoods that if they do save the place, it will be a miracle and a remote one at that. They certainly haven't spent any money on the building itself in years, and the neighborhood isn't getting richer or whiter.

Goodbye, Belk Eastland. It's been a good run.

12 reasons to be cheerful

Note to the writers: lay off U2, aight?

Bach’s back
Call us hard-hearted cynics, but we’re not convinced that the upcoming Dukes of Hazzard movie will be an instant cinematic classic, even with Burt Reynolds in the Boss Hogg role. On the other hand, it will give magazine editors an excuse to print gratuitous shots of the original Daisy Duke, Catherine Bach, and her talented replacement, Jessica Simpson, in denim micro shorts. Word is Britney Spears was up for the role in the remake, but she decided that whole cutoff look was tacky.

The planet is still savable (just)
Let’s face it, the only way you can drive a Toyota Prius and still get laid is if you’re a baseball-cap-wearing pretty boy who earns $20 million a movie. So, with the first hybrid Ferrari still a couple of decades away, what’s an eco-friendly regular guy to do? The answer? Go old-school. Classic diesel-engine Mercedes (like the one John Lennon used to tool around in) run on just about anything, including easy-on-the-emissions vegetable oil. You’ll have to install a converter kit, secure a supply of veggie oil (your local greasy spoon is a good source, believe it or not), and then hand-pump the stuff yourself. But just picture the payoff when she discovers that beneath that rugged exterior beats such a sensitive heart.

A chance to hear Stone Roses songs, live
“I am the resurrection,” he sang, not realizing that his career was about to go on life support for a decade and a half. With their eponymous 1989 album, the Stone Roses launched a generation of loudmouthed, shaggy-haired, guitar-cranking, dance-happy British bands. But self-destruction was imminent, and, among other indignities, lead singer Ian Brown found himself serving a 60-day jail sentence for being rude to a flight attendant. Over the last few years, though, Brown has been quietly (for him) putting a solo career together. He unveils his new album, Solarized, at NYC’s Webster Hall on February 26. And if recent UK gigs are anything to go by, he’ll perform some Stone Roses classics, too. A second coming, indeed.

Sienna Miller… available?
She first came to our attention as Jude Law’s other half. Blond, petite, possessed of a delicate yet nubile beauty… But enough about Jude, it’s Sienna Miller’s turn to shine. While 2004, Law’s supposed big year, fizzled faster than you can say “romantic comedy starring Ben Affleck,” 2005 is destined to make Sienna a star. First up she dons black tights to play Warhol muse/victim Edie Sedgwick in Factory Girl; then she’ll cavort opposite Heath Ledger in Lasse Hallstrom’s Casanova project. Forget all those engagement stories: Sienna, who was schooled in sedate Surrey, England, but born in New York, may soon be ready to ditch that loser Law and find a red-blooded American. Hey, we can dream, can’t we?

The return of the old-fashioned, head-against-the-wall hangover
There’s nothing wrong with vodka. Then again, there’s not much right about it, either. Flavored vodkas, vodkas with fancy names and fancier prices, Russian vodkas, Swedish vodkas, American vodkas—really, what’s the difference? Last year, some enterprising jokers even brought out a black vodka. How’s it taste? Duh, it’s a vodka—it doesn’t taste of anything. That’s why we’re cheered by the reappearance, on discerning bar menus, of old-fashioned brown liquor drinks: whisky, bourbon, rum, cognac, anything with that inviting amber glow. We’re not sure that you can really taste peaty fires or the auld sod, but we do know that a certain other spirit pales by comparison. Hold the Grey Goose, pass the Courvoisier.

Michael Powell can’t control space
Look, we were as shocked as the next hypocrite by Janet Jackson’s boob. But that doesn’t mean we subscribe to state censorship, which is why we’re getting Sirius about FCC-unregulated satellite radio. It’s every American’s right to listen to the tedious titillation of Howard Stern, the potty-mouthed ravings of that fading novelty act Eminem, or—and here we’re genuinely intrigued—the whispery, vainglorious musings of Bob Evans. The Hollywood legend’s new talk show, In Bed with Robert Evans, debuts on Sirius on Valentine’s Day. Uncork the Cristal, pay your date to stay an extra hour, and cuddle up in front of your satellite listening device.

The boob tube, redefined
Here’s the word from the Maalox-chugging programming sages in TV Land: Reality television is dead, all hail the return of the Important Situational Comedy. And Exhibit A is… um, an as-yet-untitled sitcom starring Pamela Anderson. In this new show from Steven Levitan, the creator of Just Shoot Me, our favorite professional dumb blonde plays a woman who keeps choosing the wrong men (wait, I thought they said this wasn’t a reality show?). It could be the guiltiest pleasure since VIP or the biggest yawn since Stripperella, but either way we’ll be tuning in.

Justin Frankel, still tinkering
Fanning, Schmanning. Justin Frankel created the Winamp media player, which put MP3s on the software map; dreamed up Gnutella, the basis of those industry-transforming post-Napster services; and sold his company to AOL in 2000 for $100 million. Now free from that corporate yoke, the 26-year-old has a new project—an ultracustomizable musical effects processor he calls the “Jesusonic.” “Death metal bands will like it because it's making fun of Jesus,” says Frankel. “And Christian rock bands will like it because it’s, you know, a cross.” The next revolution in music technology? Possibly not. But we’re just happy to live in a world where a mind like this is free to follow its bliss.

Global conformity discovers boundaries
American sports fans, we salute you. Your basketball players leap into the stands to beat the crap out of you; your baseball stars are pumped up with more drugs than ODB at his final recording session; your football teams have more career criminals than the entire nation of Colombia; and your hockey pros are on strike. And yet you refuse to watch that namby-pamby European invention known as soccer. In 1996, Major League Soccer’s inaugural season, total attendance was an anemic 2,785,001. And ever since then, it’s been in decline—a testament to American independence, steadfastness, and the refusal to believe that a game without regular commercial breaks really counts as a sport.

An entire year with no new U2 album
U2 and iPod, the perfect combination: two corporate cash machines masquerading as emblems of antiestablishment cool. Let's face it, U2 are about as rock 'n' roll as Ashlee Simpson. They started off as a plodding anthem band led by a posturing mulleted midget, and were surely destined for oblivion until that evil genius Brian Eno got hold of them. If Bono cures hunger in Africa, he'll only have half atoned for his musical sins. And as for the Edge: You're bald, dude. Deal with it. Luckily, they only release a new album roughly every four years, so after last year’s Bomb, your ears should be safe until 2008. (a little mean, I think -ss)

The male perm… seriously
Ever since East Village store assistants abandoned the faux-hawk and one too many web sites pushed the mullet beyond comic saturation point, there has been an aching void in the universe of the ironic haircut. Step forward, the male perm. Championed by Japanese hipsters and Justin Hawkins, lead singer of Brit sham rockers The Darkness, the long-derided but endearingly silly poodle do is poised for a revival. “Yes, we’ve seen guys come in for perms,” confirms Mike Saviello, the manager of NYC’s Astor Place barber shop. “Guys in their early twenties come in every couple months for their regular upkeep. If they don’t get them, they’ll have coronaries.” By April we expect every man on MTV to look like Barbra Streisand in Meet the Fockers.

Accountability, not dead yet
Never mind whether or not we should be there. As a platoon commander in Iraq from April 2003 to February 2004, Paul Rieckhoff saw firsthand how ill-equipped U.S. servicemen were—especially the lower ranks. And, since long before Donald Rumsfeld’s PR blunder introduced the concept of “hillbilly armor,” Rieckhoff has been holding the Administration’s feet to the fire via Operation Truth, the organization he founded to draw attention to the issue. Whether via his frequent TV and radio appearances, or a web site,, that lets soldiers share their personal accounts, he’s doing something that warrants a salute.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

my second millenium

I couldn't have done it without you guys!

this is me, then | 1985

Please, can someone get your friendly neighborhood blogger a hair brush? This is me in 1985, forever the stud! LOL : )

Vital Signs of a Khaki Person

I found this at Bill's Khakis, makers of some of the best pants in the world:

If you can answer yes to two or more of the following, then there’s no denying you are "a khaki person."
  • Show great imagination with duct tape.
  • Your eyeglasses are older than you are.
  • Still vacation in the same spot as you did as a kid.
  • Bought or sold a Swedish made car with over 100,000 miles.
  • Buying another white shirt is your idea of adding variety to your closet.
  • Still have a wooden tennis racket somewhere in the house.
  • Never catch up with your reading.
  • Your dogs eat as well as you do.
  • You overdress for yard work.
  • Get along just fine with 4 Television Channels.
  • Find something fundamentally wrong with microwaves.
  • Ate in a Cyber Café, once.
  • Can’t accept professionals in the Olympics.
  • Don’t believe in debt.

the first snow of the year

This hs been an unusual year in Steve-land. It's mid- to late January and we're just now seeing our first signifigant snowfall. I took the pictures below yesterday around the house.

Up the road.

My house.


banana pudding

  • Only a Southerner knows the difference between a hissy fit and a conniption fit, and that you don't "HAVE" them, you "PITCH" them.
  • Only a Southerner knows how many fish, collard greens, turnip greens, peas, beans, etc., make up "a mess."
  • Only a Southerner can show or point out to you the general direction of"yonder."
  • Only a Southerner knows exactly how long "directly" is -- as in: "Going totown,be back directly."
  • Even Southern babies know that "Gimme some sugar" is not a request for the white, granular sweet substance that sits in a pretty little bowl in the middle ofthe table
  • All Southerners know exactly when "by and by" is. They might not use the term, but they know the concept well.
  • Only a Southerner knows instinctively that the best gesture of solace for aneighbor who's got trouble is a plate of hot fried chicken and a big bowl of cold potato salad. If the neighbor's trouble is a real crisis, they also know to add a large banana puddin!
  • Only Southerners grow up knowing the difference between "right near"and "a right far piece." They also know that "just down the road" can be 1 mile or 20.
  • Only a Southerner both knows and understands the difference between a redneck, a good ol' boy, and po' white trash.
  • No true Southerner would ever assume that the car with the flashing turn signal is actually going to make a turn.
  • A Southerner knows that "fixin" can be used as a noun, a verb, or an adverb.
  • Only Southerners make friends while standing in lines. We don't do"queues,"we do "lines"; and when we're "in line," we talk to everybody!
  • Put 100 Southerners in a room and half of them will discover they're related, even if only by marriage.
  • Southerners never refer to one person as "y'all."
  • Southerners know grits come from corn and how to eat them.
  • Every Southerner knows tomatoes with eggs, bacon, grits, and coffee are perfectlywonderful; that red eye gravy is also a breakfast food; and that fried green tomatoesare not a breakfast food.
  • When you hear someone say, "Well, I caught myself lookin'," you know you are in the presence of a genuine Southerner!
  • Only true Southerners say "sweet tea" and "sweet milk." Sweet tea indicates need for sugar and lots of it -- we do not like our tea unsweetened. "Sweet milk" means you don't want buttermilk.
  • And a true Southerner knows you don't scream obscenities at little old ladies who drive 30 MPH on the freeway. You just say, "Bless her heart" and go your own way.

To those of you who're still a little embarrassed by your Southerness: Take two tent revivals and a dose of sausage gravy and call me in the morning. Bless your heart!

And to those of you who are still having a hard time understanding all this Southern stuff, bless your hearts, I hear they are fixin' to have classes on Southernness as a second language! (Elderwise?)

And for those that are not from the South but have lived here for a longtime, ya'll need a sign to hang on y'all's front porch that reads, "I ain't from around here but I got here as fast as I could."

Bless your hearts, y'all have a blessed day.

Thanks to Faye Doughty for sending this to me.

Friday, January 21, 2005

takin' da paff | north jersey slang


The Mall at Short Hills in Short Hills, New Jersey

My cousin Cindy is technically from central New Jersey, but after travelling theough the area a few times, I'd think she's heard many of the slanguage terms below. Enjoy.
  • Jaws - North New Jersey
  • Jay See - Jersey City
  • Da Skyway - Pulaski Skyway
  • Da Oynges - East or West Orange, etc.
  • Bay Owner - A resident of Bayonne
  • Big Tuna - Former NY Jets coach Bill Parcells
  • Da Paff - Path train from Jay See to downtown NY
  • D'linkin - Lincoln Tunnel
  • Da Haulin' - Holland Tunnel
  • Goin' to da Shore - Taking a trip to South Jersey

this is me, then | 1990

1990 saw your friendly neighborhood blogger surrounded by stripes. Lots of them. Those backgrounds school photgraphers use sure are cheesy.

guess which children's character is gay now?

SpongeBob SquarePants

First it was Bert and Ernie, then Tinky-Winky from The Teletubbies. Not content to go fag-hunting on PBS daytime, The New York Times reported yesterday that an influential conservative Christian group claims that lovable cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants is gay as well, as allegedly evidenced in a video distributed by the We Are Family Foundation.

The Times reoprts:
Dr. James C. Dobson, head of The American Family Association, claims that SpongeBob's creators had enlisted him in a "pro-homosexual video," in which he appeared alongside children's television colleagues like Barney and Jimmy Neutron, among many others. The makers of the video, he said, planned to mail it to thousands of elementary schools to promote a "tolerance pledge" that includes tolerance for differences of "sexual identity."

The video's creator, Nile Rodgers, who wrote the disco hit "We Are Family," said Mr. Dobson's objection stemmed from a misunderstanding. Mr. Rodgers said he founded the We Are Family Foundation after the Sept. 11 attacks to create a music video to teach children about multiculturalism. The video has appeared on television networks, and nothing in it or its accompanying materials refers to sexual identity. The pledge, borrowed from the Southern Poverty Law Center, is not mentioned on the video and is available only on the group's Web site.

Mr. Rodgers suggested that Dr. Dobson and the American Family Association, the conservative Christian group that first sounded the alarm, might have been confused because of an unrelated Web site belonging to another group called "We Are Family," which supports gay youth.

"The fact that some people may be upset with each other peoples' lifestyles, that is O.K.," Mr. Rodgers said. "We are just talking about respect."

Mark Barondess, the foundation's lawyer, said the critics "need medication."

On Wednesday however, Paul Batura, assistant to Mr. Dobson at Focus on the Family, said the group stood by its accusation.

"We see the video as an insidious means by which the organization is manipulating and potentially brainwashing kids," he said. "It is a classic bait and switch."

I've never seen this show though I've been unable to escape the promotion of the full-length animated movie starring SpongeBob and company. My impression of the show is that it is decent children's entertainment without a sexual agenda.

I didn't know until I read the article that SpongeBob has become a well-known camp figure among adult gay men, perhaps because he holds hands with his animated sidekick Patrick and likes to watch the imaginary television show "The Adventures of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy."

Even if gay men love a cartoon character, that doesn't automatically the cartoon gay. At least not in my estimation. Little kids (which SopngeBob and his starfish sidekick are portrayed as) have distinct gender identities, but watching goofy TV shows and holding hands doesn't seal the deal on their sexuality.

Aren't sponges and starfish in real life asexual anyway?

Ernie & Bert

The SpongeBob controversey reminds me of the flap over Bert and Ernie on 'Sesame Street' that turns up every few years. Just because two Muppets are roommates doesn't mean that thy're banging each other. In their case, Muppets have no genitals so that makes sex largely impossible. Great, now I'm analizing this crap like the hate-mongers at the AFA

Maybe if these Christian groups would spread the Word and lead people into salvation through Christ instead of laciviously watching children's programming looking for gay Muppets and sponges, we could clear up some of the evil in this world.

a loss

With all the sadness and trauma going on in the world at the moment, it is worth reflecting on the death of a very important person which almost went unnoticed last week.

Larry La Prise, the man who wrote The Hokey Pokey died peacefully at the age of 93.

The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin. They put his left leg in. And then the trouble started.

Shut up, you know it's funny.

Thanks to Johnny Kincer for that one

Federated, May and the state of the department store industry

Essay time, y'all. It's a long one, but I thought it came out pretty good.

What does being a department store mean these days? That’s a tough question, because the only true ‘department stores’ these days are the Big Three discounters: Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target, and to a lesser extent, Sears, Roebuck and Co and

A department store, by definition, is a retailer that carries a wide variety of goods and services under one roof (or internet storefront). The perpetrators still calling themselves department stores are actually large apparel specialty stores with token home items thrown in for good measure. Take a look at any major department store chain and you’ll see this for yourself.

It used to be very different. In the days of yore, ‘merchant princes’ started from humble beginnings and created massive downtown emporiums where one could spend an entire day and purchase nearly everything one needed in a single stop. Those merchants were respected community leaders and many held their stores in such high regard that they saw them as extensions of the community: giving to charities, providing venues for events, et cetera. The public reciprocated, granting stores like Macy’s, Hudson’s and Marshall Field’s a place in their hearts and homes. Suburbanization eroded some of the civic aspects of the department store, replaced in part by the shopping center, which functioned as a department store writ large.

While the mall was a boom at first for the department store operator, things quickly turned sour. With malls came competition. The suburbs were vast and unclaimed, the polar opposite of downtown, and in this frontier of the new, fresh ideas crept into consumer consciousness. Discount stores imitated the department store’s merchandising at lower prices, and intrepid businessmen began creating what are now called ‘big box’ stores that specialize in a limited range of products sold in a high volume.

The first reaction by department stores was to ignore the trends and build more stores. When that didn’t work, the stores cut back on inventory, leaving furniture, toys, hardware and other ‘hard goods’ markets to the specialists. When that didn’t work, the more prosperous chains began swallowing up the weaker ones, leading to a pervasive uniform blandness.

The reaction by consumers was clear. While many still ventured to department stores out of habit or for ‘fashion,’ many more began to embrace a new kind of retail reality. Discounters became more sophisticated, big box stores broadened their lines and specialty stores began to embrace ‘lifestyle merchandising:’ creating mythical worlds of their own to capture consumers wanting to live idealized lifestyles. In essence, the rest of the retail industry embraced the traditional department store model, while department stores became parodies of their former selves.

The last ten years have seen calls to ‘reinvent’ the department store, led notably by Federated Department Stores. There was a definite movement towards making stores easier to shop, with broader aisles, better lighting, competitive pricing and an embrace of youth culture in order to stop a three-decade slide of irrelevance to the channel by younger people, who find their needs are better served in competing retail formats.

Though shopping carts and flashy new displays certainly knocked the dust off an increasingly obscure retail format, the changes were largely ignored. Compare this with what most people still equated with the department store industry in this generation: stodgy fashions, indifferent sales associates, high prices partially obscured by never-ending ‘sale events’ with coupons that are worthless on anything but store brands, and boring look-alike stores with few choices beyond clothes and basic housewares.

Lazarus-Macy's, Castleton Square Mall, Indianapolis -- Rob Goebel / The Star

The Federated-May merger
Two companies that have stood victorious in the battles that have led most department store operators out of business have a new plan for survival. Federated and The May Department Stores Company have proposed a merger that will create a 1000-store behemoth larger than its three biggest direct competitors combined.

The new operation would presumably bring together the last of the strong department store nameplates into a united company to battle the Wal-Marts and Best Buys of the world, giving new hope that the quasi-department store formats both embrace will survive into the next generation.

From an investment standpoint in the short term, the idea is a sound one. May and Federated together could cherry-pick the most profitable locations in their combined portfolio, utilize the nameplates with the greatest impact and essentially corner the national middle-aged, middle-class market that still shops their stores, something no other company of its ilk has been able to do.

The combined buying power of the new chain could force down prices on popular merchandise by forcing vendors to make concessions to keep their business, a la Wal-Mart. In that regard, the new Federated could be a powerhouse.

But in the long term, the idea makes no sense. Because neither company has been able to embrace the youth market, win on price against competing formats, or genuinely make their stores compelling places to shop on their own, who is to say that the new company would fare any better?

In addition, to achieve the kinds of cost savings that the companies would have to produce to be truly viable, more uniformity in merchandising and store design would presumably have to take place. These practices have led to eroding returns at department stores for years, as consumers searched for ‘something different.’

Dillard's, Four Seasons Town Centre, Greensboro, North Carolina

The idea of consolidation in retail has been around for as long as retail itself. Certainly, no retailer can survive if the costs of doing business outweigh the profits. Take for example the case of W.T. Grant, a once successful company that borrowed and expanded itself into bankruptcy, continuing to pay dividends to shareholders despite serious sales problems.

Larger companies can exact cost savings from combining operations and streamlining redundancy. In doing so, however, the risk becomes the creation of completely uniform shopping experiences at each store. Dillard’s, Inc., is an example. While the company’s back-office operations are efficient and admired by the retail community, the in-store experience is so similar to its competitors and its stores resemble each other so much that Dillard’s becomes in a way, remarkably unremarkable by design.

While Federated and May, together or apart, are in no danger of going the way of Grant’s in the foreseeable future, the Dillard’s example does ring true. While Dillard’s became dominant and leveraged its operation on a near national-scale, the stores themselves became bland. As Federated and May have walked down similar paths in this regard in the recent past, a combination of the two without real in-store innovation could lead to more indifference.

Macy's, New York

The future
The future of the department store lies in diversification and not mergers. Federated, especially in its Macy’s division, needs to bring the energy and breadth of merchandise of their largest stores to its smaller markets, making those stores more compelling to shop and a real alternative to their competition. May needs to broaden its product selection beyond the basics and embrace both higher-fashion and higher-quality goods along with a more developed presentation in its home store. Both chains need to embrace food and leisure items and its possibilities for shopper retention and awareness.

Without substantive changes, the department store industry as a whole will become less relevant with passing time. While the public at large may not miss them in the long term, the short term will prove disastrous for the real estate and job markets. Millions of square feet of retail space could be left empty and thousands of jobs could be lost if May and/or Federated refuse to diversify or merge together and fail.

While department store competitors like Belk, Bon-Ton, and Gottschalk’s could absorb some of the losses as growth to their business, the same companies suffer from many of the same problems that the giant chains do.

Many of the latter day rules for retailing no longer apply, so an embrace of the founding principles that made department stores great in the first place could revive the industry. Simply staying the course and merging into larger and larger concerns will eventually lead the industry to ruin.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

downy awe'k shun | south jersey slang


New Jersey has many dimensions: one is the urbanized version we're all familiar with from TV, the other is the more rural, quieter section of the state wher my friend Blair is from. Here's some slanguage from his neck of the woods.
  • Hammonton - Hammington
  • Shoe Bees Beached - Tourists sited
  • Stoned Harbor - Pretty south Jersey town
  • Downa Boards - Summertime outdoor hangout. Some even say Downa Broads. Sounds fun.
  • Pie Knees - People from the Pine Barrens
  • JOY Zee - Who we ain't
  • Wall Women - Bridge to Philadelphia
  • Norker - Someone from Newark
  • Green Crick - Green Creek, New Jersey
  • Senile City - Popular seaside resort
  • Treh Uhn - Trenton correctly pronounced
  • Ann Tinnet - Antoinnete
  • How ya Doan? - Jersey Greeting
  • Lannic City - Famous seaside resort
  • Snot Yours Smine - It is not in your possession, it is in mine
  • Dorg - It bites the cat
  • Bennies - Tourists from North Jersey
  • Muscle Shirt, Black Sox and Sandals - Everyday Wildwood attire
  • Cuppa Cawfee Anna Bagel - Typical morning meal
  • Downy Awe'k Shun - Going to Berlin Farmers Market

this is me, then | 1975

This is your friendly neighborhood blogger's picture as a newborn. If you've been paying attention in this series, you know I'll get a lot cuter in a very short time, then it'll all go downhill : )

imagine the size of that turd!

Diew, a five year-old Thai elephant, demonstrates how to use and flush a toilet at an elephant camp in Chiang Mai province, in northern Thailand. Having taught Thailand's elephants to paint, dance and play musical instruments, their Thai handlers are now toilet-training the beasts, media reported.(AFP)

Report: Federated in Talks to Buy May

Lord & Taylor, Water Tower Place, Chicago, Illinois. According to the Wall Street Journal, Federated Department Stores is in talks about buying Lord & Taylor owner The May Department Stores Co. (photo by Justin Hall, 2003)

NEW YORK - Federated Department Stores Inc. is in talks about buying rival May Department Stores Co. in a deal that would create a huge retailer with $30 billion in combined sales and nearly 1,000 department stores including Bloomingdale's, Macy's, Lord & Taylor and Marshall Field's, a published report said Thursday.

The Wall Street Journal, citing unidentified people familar with the talks, said the discussions are preliminary and are at a delicate stage and cautioned that there is no guarantee a deal will be reached.

It said repesentatves for each of the companies declined comment.

The talks come amid a consolidation drive in the U.S. retailing industry as companies try to reduce costs and gain scale in an effort to compete more effectively with the industry leader, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Last fall, Kmart Holding Corp. agreed to buy Sears, Roebuck & Co. for $11.5 billion.

The Journal said the value of a possible deal between Cincinnati-based Federated and St. Louis-based May isn't clear.

It said Federated, which has 459 stores including Bloomingdale's and Macy's, has a market value of about $9.7 billion.

May, which operates about 500 department stores including Filene's, Famous-Barr as well as Marshall Field's and Lord & Taylor, has a current market value of about $9.2 billion.

Only last Friday May's chairman and chief executive, Gene Kahn, abruptly resigned and the company named president John Dunham to serve as acting chairman and chief executive while it looks for a successor.

The announcement cited no reason for Kahn's departure.

Kahn, who had been with May in various capacities since 1990, left the company seven months after helping May acquire Target Corp.'s more than five dozen Marshall Field's department stores and nine Mervyn sites for $3.24 billion - a price many analysts called too high.

The Journal said Federated and May held unsuccessful merger talks in 2002 that foundered partly over management concerns.

But it said Kahn's departure could clear the way for Federated Chairman and CEO Terry Lundgren to lead a combined company.

Sneaker elite | shopping for kicks in north jersey

Thursday, January 20, 2005

If you're looking for plain, boring white sneakers, stop reading right now - go try the mall.

The rest of you? Think color. Think fabrics, from tweed to denim to shiny patent leather. Prepare yourself, basically, for some of the coolest sneakers you've ever seen.

A growing number of people seem to be interested in just that, and where there's demand, there's supply - in this case, at a host of new sneaker boutiques, both brick-and-mortar and online. They focus on quality, not quantity, and on fashion, not function. Details on the where, why and what below.

Packer Shoes
941 Teaneck Road, Teaneck, NJ
(201) 837-2022

Look and feel: It's modeled after similar Japanese stores: Wood floors, cork and silver walls, and benches filled with old sneakers set the tone. A veritable museum of Nikes runs along the wall just below the ceiling. Overhead lights shine through the soles of sneakers.

What it has: Lots of Nikes, as well as limited releases, imports and other hard-to-find items - though there is plenty for the non-collector as well.

A visit turned up Air 180s in white, ultramarine and a splash of pink ($90); Puma Xevisu denim high-tops ($120); and a pair of Jordan 5s in black and silver ($400).

Packer also offers hyper-hip brands like aNYthing and Japanese import A Bathing Ape. Oh, and it's not unusual to see sneakerheads lined up outside waiting for an exclusive sneaker drop.

The story behind the store: Way back when Nike was a baby company, Michael Packer's family stocked the brand in its Yonkers store. When Packer, a former lawyer, opened the Teaneck shop, Nike gave him its elite accounts.

298 Elizabeth St., Manhattan
(212) 979-9514

Look and feel: A red couch provides a great place to lounge in this super-stylish store near Soho - a favorite of Will Ferrell's. Red and white shelves hold colorful sneakers. The graphic art adorning the walls is for sale.

What it has: More than 100 styles of limited-edition sneakers (Michael Chang Reebok pumps in the original colors, $125) and fashion-forward options: shearling Vans in low ($110) and high ($130) top and patent leather and mesh Pumas designed by Mihara ($160).

Classickicks has a larger selection of clothing than most other sneaker boutiques. Staples include Lacoste, Fred Perry and Puma.

The story behind the store: Sneaker lover Nicholas Santora and his girlfriend, Jennifer Haiken, opened it after Sept. 11 left one laid off and the other looking for a change. The duo, who grew up one town apart in Essex County, stock the store as they would their closet - and they have good taste.

The store was originally Def Jam Records' recording studio and office.

Dave's Quality Meat
7 E. Third St., Manhattan
(212) 505-7551

Look and feel: The innovative interior design may fool you into thinking you're actually walking into a renovated butcher shop, but for the record, this place has never cut and served real meat.

Still, the feel is authentic: The walls are white tile, a meat case holds T-shirts in plastic-wrapped Styrofoam trays, fake meat hangs from hooks, and Dave wears a white butcher jacket. The dressing rooms are even designed to look like meat lockers.

What it has: Some great sneaker choices, especially for women: black and cream snakeskin Adidas Titans ($85), Nike Blazers in a tiger-striped pony hair ($75) or Harris Tweed ($95). Skater-style clothes for girls by Japanese and U.K. designers.

The story behind the store: The Dave in question - former skateboard marketer Dave Ortiz -opened Dave's Quality Meats with former pro skater Chris Keeffe a year ago. So if it feels a little bit like a skate shop, now you know why. Ortiz conceptualized everything, while Keeffe's general-contractor dad came in handy when putting the place together.

Look and feel: More informative than flashy. Clicking on a sneaker produces a variety of views and often an explanation of the shoe's history, its design and its appeal. Sneakers are separated into four categories: basketball, running, cross-training and rare finds.

What it has: Because sneaker counterfeiting is so pervasive, the site sticks to what it knows best: Nikes and Jordans. There are extremely rare finds, including Paris Dunks for $1,850 (in men's 7 and 8) and $9,000 Jordan Lows. On the other end of the scale are the Cortez Laser, in a rare Japanese design, available in most men's sizes for $99.

The story behind the store: Sneaker devotee and owner Steve Mullholand is also the publisher of Sole Collector (, a magazine devoted to sneakers and collectors. He started the Web site on eBay six years ago with two pairs and now stocks hundreds.

His company scours the world for merchandise, buying entire collections as well as sneakers released in Europe and Asia.

update | Pharrell Drops Lawsuit Against Reebok

Carla Hay - Billboard magazine

The Neptunes' Pharrell Williams and Reebok have mutually agreed to part ways after a legal dispute. Last month, Williams filed a $4 million breach-of-contract lawsuit against the company, alleging it failed to meet distribution and quality standards for his Billionaire Boys Club apparel line and Ice Cream footwear collection.

Williams and Reebok had entered into the licensing-and-distribution partnership in 2003, and the Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream collections launched last year.

According to his spokesperson, Williams has dropped the lawsuit against Reebok as part of the agreement. Reebok will continue selling Ice Cream shoes until June 30. Williams says he will soon be announcing future plans for the Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream lines.

"Reebok and I both understand we have very different visions for my clothing line, BBC and my sneaker line, Ice Cream," Williams said in a statement. "I have learned a great deal doing business with Reebok, and it has been a great experience. I am pleased that we can part ways amicably and am excited to launch my line independently."

According to Reebok chief marketing officer Dennis Baldwin, the company's design and distribution strategy was at odds with Williams'.

"Although we would have liked for this venture to have been more successful, in the end, we both realize that the design and distribution fit just wasn't there," he said.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

roll damn tide! | birmingham slang


I'm not from Birmingham, and have never even been close, but this info from seems pretty consistent with what I've heard from people there. Enjoy!

  • Da Ham - The Name of our fair city
  • The Magic City - Birmingham's nickname after the steel industry died out.
  • Bham - The proper way to spell the city's name when addressing an envelope
  • Over the Mountain - Affluent area south of Birmingham on the other side of Red Mountain.
  • The Met - The Hoover Metropolitan Stadium, home of the Birmingham Barons and Hoover High School Buccaneers
  • The Grey Lady - Rickwood Field, former home of the Birmingham Barons
  • The Stallions, Vulcans, Fire & Thunderbolts - Failed pro football teams
  • The Bulls - Failed pro hockey team
  • The Dome - Mythical building that will get pro hockey and football into the city
  • Malfunction Junction - the interchange of I-65 and I-20/59
  • Brookies - Derogatory term for people living in the upper-class, over-the-mountain city of Mountain Brook
  • Vulcan - The statue of the Greek god of the forge which stands atop Red Mountain
  • Moon Over Homewood - Vulcan's buttocks showing from under his loincloth over the upper middle-class, over-the-mountain city of Homewood
  • Southside - The area between University Blvd and the crest of Red Mountain where the cool kids hang out.
  • T-Town - Small town to the southwest of Birmingham
  • Alabama - The University of Alabama (in T-Town)
  • Bama - (See Alabama)
  • The Tide - The University of Alabama football team
  • Roll Damn Tide! - How we cheer the Tide. Also the proper way to say "goodbye" after a phone conversation. In fact, the only time this is not an acceptable phrase is at the end of a prayer in church. On that occasion, they use the standard "Ameyun."
  • Cow college - Derogatory name for Auburn University
  • Wawrrrrrrre Eeeee-Gull!!!! - How they cheer the Tigers (yeah, it doesn't make sense, what do you expect from a cow college)
  • Goat Hill - Capitol Hill in Montgomery
  • The Redneck Riviera - Gulf Shores, AL
  • Pea See - Panama City, FL
  • Coke - Can mean Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, RC, 7 Up, Sprite, Dr. Pepper or Mr. Pibb
  • Downinmuntgumry - Where the guvner resides. Always said as one word.
  • Moe-BEE-uhl - The correct pronunciation of the largest Ala-freekin'-bama city on the Gulf Coast. Heavy emphasis on the middle syllable
  • Remlap - A small town in Alabama. The story goes that the Palmer family settled a town called Palmerdale. When two of the Palmer brothers got into an argument, one brother moved eight miles down the road and started the town of Remlap. "Palmer" spelled backwards. It's on the map - just a few miles northeast of Bham.
  • Cabahites - The correct Bamaspeak pronunciation of the Bham suburb of Cahaba Heights.
  • Milo's - Local fast food chain with the best hamburgers in the world.

this is me, then | 1980

This is your friendly neighborhood blogger's kindergarten picture. Allen had gone to kindergarten a year before I did and my dad and I used to vist him at school at least once a month or so. School seemed very fun at that time.

We moved to our new house in 1980, and into a new school district, where I discovered that school was not as fun as I had hoped. That may be the reason I looked so bored in this picture.