Category Archives: Pop-Culture

Marketing Moronicism

By -

I went to a Jesuit college, and I excelled at philosophy and religious studies. I naively decided to get a major in marketing, which in retrospect I consider idiotic. Unless you are entering a profession involving something that puts people at risk (engineering, medicine, etc.) my view is that college is a place to learn to think, not to learn a vocation. My marketing degree was an utter and complete waste of time. (Although I graduated in only 2 1/2 years, since I was eager to get working).

I was reminded of this when I read about a marketing success for a cereal named Shreddies. This is not sold in the U.S., but instead is in Canada, New Zealand, and Britain. Shreddies was your basic shredded wheat cereal, much like any Mini Wheats you’d find in America, but it was an old, stodgy brand. (more…)

If Ever There Was a Time to Short GOOG

By -

I’ve been noticing posters around town for a new movie coming out June 7th called The Internship. It is described thusly: “Two salesmen whose careers have been torpedoed by the digital age find their way into a coveted internship at Google, where they must compete with a group of young, tech-savvy geniuses for a shot at employment.”


As a proud contrarian, I look for signs like this, which don’t happen that often, of any concept or company that has so deeply saturated itself into the public mind that they start making freaking movies about it. Can you imagine someone doing a film about a guy starting a gig as a salesman down at the local Foot Locker?

I wouldn’t be surprised to see GOOG at a much lower price by the end of the year. This isn’t technical analysis, I realize – - – more like cultural analysis.


The last time I remember a big tech company getting a starring role in a movie was that iJob film, or whatever they called it, starring Ashton Kutcher. Apparently the movie itself was a completely embarassing bomb, but I find it more interesting that all the excitement about it and the filming of the movie itself took place when AAPL was, oh, about $700 per share. And, once the movie was actually released, well……….


A Killer Smile

By -

Until the FOMC announcement, it’s a bit of a waiting game, so allow me to introduce you to something that has nothing to do with charts or trading: The Dating Game.

The man in question is Rodney Alcala, who has been in prison for decades for the murder of an unknown number of people (some say as many as 130). Even though he was already a convicted felon (and, unknown at the time, had killed four women) he, incredibly, was included as a participant on The Dating Game. I’ll let Wikipedia tell you the story:

In 1978, despite his status as a convicted rapist and registered sex offender, Alcala was accepted as a contestant on The Dating Game. By then he had already killed at least two women in California and two others in New York.Host Jim Lange introduced him as a “successful photographer who got his start when his father found him in the darkroom at the age of 13, fully developed. Between takes you might find him skydiving or motorcycling”.

Actor Jed Mills, who competed against Alcala as “Bachelor #2″, later described him as a “very strange guy” with “bizarre opinions”. He added that Alcala did not wear earrings on the show, as he claimed during his 2010 trial; earrings were not yet a socially acceptable accouterment for men in 1978. “I had never seen a man with an earring in his ear”, he said. “I would have noticed them on him”. The third contestant, Armand Chiami, has not made any public comments.

Alcala won a date with “bachelorette” Cheryl Bradshaw, who subsequently refused to go out with him, according to published reports, because she found him “creepy”. Criminal profiler Pat Brown, noting that Alcala killed Robin Samsoe and at least two other women after his Dating Game appearance, speculated that Bradshaw’s rejection might have been an exacerbating factor. “One wonders what that did in his mind”, Brown said. “That is something he would not take too well. [Serial killers] don’t understand the rejection. They think that something is wrong with that girl: ‘She played me. She played hard to get.’

So three cheers for women’s intuition; the woman who thought he was creepy almost certainly saved her life by not going out with him. Check out the brief video, though. It’s unnerving watching the behavior of a man we now know was a serial murderer.

Magnificent Interview

By -

My affection for George Carlin is well-known. He is, after all, the Patron Saint of Slope of Hope.

I hadn’t seen this interview before, but I tripped across it by chance. It is a wonderful interview for a couple of reasons. First, George basically talks about himself for an hour. There’s no interviewer jumping in; it’s just him and the camera. It’s the closest I’ve ever felt to knowing what it would like to have actually met him and listened to him as a real person, instead of as a performer on the stage.

Second, his values really shine through. He is obviously a very moral and thoughtful man, and he is someone who tried to be wise about the decisions he made in his life. And he had a truly amazing life. This is something I would like to be able to say of myself in the end. I’ll never be a Carlin, or anything close, but I’d at least like to look back and think I didn’t screw up too badly.

Some of you recall that hearing about Carlin’s death was a “JFK moment” for me. He was a comedic genius, and he helped me understand how frustration and anger can be crafted into creative forms of expression. If you even a passing interest in Carlin, please do watch the interview.