Every once in a while, The Business of Life finds you in … a recession-free zone.
Current economic strife need not apply…
First off, I hope you had one hell of a great Thanksgiving! Turkey, carbs, refined sugar… nap… repeat. Also hoping that a) you followed my lead or b) you kept your sanity intact whilst the thrifty bargain hunter in you celebrated what just might prove to be the blackest of Black Fridays!
I missed the brunt, and on Sunday took my daughter, The Toaster, on a little mommy-daughter jaunt to one of the strongest recession-free zones in the U.S. — The American Girl Store. Mine was located at the Natick Collection (née Natick Mall) in Natick, MA. It’s a two-story megaplex to pink fabulous chick-dom.
And absolutely fascinating.
Sure there’s a recession going on, but to the hoards of Moms, Dads, Grandparent and caregivers that were stocking up on every conceivable item that a doll could need, it could as well been the go-go fab Internet 90′s! Don’t know American Girl? You can read more HERE, but basically it’s a phenom in the same vein as the pet rock, beanie babies and Zsu-Zsu pets, but with longer longevity and a pricier entry point.
For $95 you buy a basic doll, but (and here’s a very big BUT) it’s the lifestyle you’re going to end of paying for. Clothes, furniture, pets for the dolls (both historically accurate and modern, depending on the doll); the stores that sell the dolls, clothing, accessories, child “me too” clothing, that house the salon (hair, ear piercing (!)), restaurant and shows; and, finally, the online innerstaru social-media component, where the girls can attend an American Girl University (yoga!)
Whew! (Say that in one breath)
Don’t get me wrong– I’m not a hater. I hate only the fact that I was born a decade or two too late to be a part of American Girls demos. The dolls are adorable, the message they share (girls being empowered, responsible, strength, etc.) is absolutely compelling. The historical dolls are educational. The clothes, accessories and “me too” outfits are nothing short of fab (“Does this come in a size 8?… No?… You sure?”)
What is shocking, worrying, fascinating, and impressive all at the same time is how much parents are spending so their daughters can be a part of the A.G. culture. It is a business lesson every single time I go (I’ve been 3 times thus far, for full disclosure.) Personally, I’ve purchased hair-dos (averaging $15 a pop), clothing ($30-$45 for a boxed outfit, and a pet ($20 for something the size Barbie would play with) but I’ve got restraint. I’ve seen truck drivers leave with bags and bags of accessories and a doll or two (or four) under arm. My measly $45 bill was nothing to the $1576, $346 and $780 bills before me.
I felt like I had to apologize to the shopgirl for wasting the register tape.
It’s also so in your face. From selling to pink EVERYTHING. It’s like commerce, Viva Las Vegas style. And efficient. Super-efficient. They’ve pretty much figured how to part you from your wallet quickly, conveniently and in the most ways possible.
Ok, now that being said, Toaster and I had a fantastic time. We got Molly’s (that’s the American Girl from the 40′s) hair done, bought an early Christmas present outfit and had lunch at the cafe. They provided a seat for Molly with some lemonade for her to drink, while I and Toaster dined on prix fixe salmon and mini-burgers. We were there celebrating Molly’s birthday (whose actual birthday is Dec 25th) and each other. Girl talk, ice cream and fun. And the Toaster loved it all. And I loved her loving it.
It one image still sticks with me:
On our way out, a father barreled into the store… his response to the A.G. greeter asking if he needed assistance was
“No….I’m embarrassed to say this, but I know exactly where I’m going!”
And about 4 other parents around us died laughing.
Sometimes The Business of Life is enjoying the classics.
Adam Sandler’s “Turkey For Me, Turkey For You.”
And enjoy on of the greatest holiday the U.S. has, (well not so great for turkeys.)
The Business of Life includes… putting the kids to work (and being Thankful for it.)
The Toaster, my 7 year old, way too wise and way too fabulous daughter wrote a Thanksgiving story last night. At my prompting. To keep her occupied, whilst waiting out her twin brother’s hockey skills practice.
The challenge: Thanksgiving. A girl. Paris. And a turkey.
Well she did it right quick and I promised I’d post it for view here. Let it be known, spelling is not her forte. So when in doubt go phonetic or use context clues.
Once apon a time a girl named Molly livd in Peris and it was amost thanksgiveing and had to bhy a tucky it is so hard to bhy one said Molly. She picke one up and tock it home and soud it to her mom and dad. It loked beitudful mom cook the tucky it look yum. mmmm siad Molly and set the tadl. Wow said mom and had a yummy thackgiving.
What can I say. Mission fulfilled.
May we all have a Happy Thackgiving!
The Business of Life should include… kissing off crappy advertisers (and products).
This was brought to you by my friend Tyson and his most fabulous Social Media firm Dialogue (see at 0:40sec mark for his company plug) …. and not by the letter “H.” (I love Sesame Street… so allow me the occasional random reference.)
Outside of Tyson’s awesomeness (and he is, so hire him if SocMed guidance is what you need,) this little video does a fair showing of how today’s “advertisers” (and retailers/companies) have their work cut out for them.
Social media has not only made the advertising experience two-way, it’s also encompasses the entire life-cycle of consumption: researching/initial impression, purchase, review & customer relations — and at all points there’s a potential feedback loop, good or bad. What do I mean? Well, for example, you’re not feeling the love from a recent purchasing experience? You could post a bad review, FB your frustration, blog it or tweet it — all of which have the very real potential of negatively influencing others who were contemplating buying that item or service. Another great example at play right now? One word: TSA. Blogged, tweeted, Youtube’d, FB’ed, etc, it’s all over the Net. My guess is as we approach the high-holidays of travel this is only going to get worse, because it’s viral and emotion and mob-mentality all rolled into one. Folks, patting down a 5 year old or a nun never plays well. (Good luck with that Homeland Security!)
So back to the raison d’etre — this little video does a fair job showing why company’s marketing departments (and the advertisers they employ) are quaking in their boots. Not only do they need great creative but they have to be on top of it (message and positioning) from a product’s conception to death.
It’s not easy to get it right and very, very easy to get wrong.
The Business of Life is… finding shortcuts, saving time, saving your sanity above all.
Can you feel it?
By God, I say batten down the hatches kiddies, as the Holidays (Xmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and I’ll throw in Festivus) are upon us even before their… um…err… suppose to be.
This economy has brought out the gauche in retailers looking at the all mighty bottom line, and this week, two weeks before Thanksgiving, I saw… brace yourselves… Christmas decorations up. It was a huge OMG! because they were obnoxiously in your face. Actually, it was embarrassing. For them. For me.
I mean, there is an unwritten treatise between us and retailers — you know the drill, they know the drill. It would seem this year they’ve lost their composure and let’er rip and threw up (in more ways than one) the holiday decor before the unofficial treatise date of Friday. Black Friday to be specific. As if somehow I’d spend more money, earlier, because they are that much more in the Christmas (or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa or Festivus) spirit (but I really mean Christmas because you no matter how they disguise it that what they mean too) than other less holy establishments.
I’m going online, shopping before (can anyone say June?) and I’m 80% done by this Friday. I shop local small shops and boutiques, or Amazon.com (thank GOD for PRIME) and it’s done. No panic, no stress.
Thank you very much and I’ll take my martini straight up with a twist of smug.
I’m also going for the novel approach of giving less this year. My children usually ask for 3 things and maybe get 1 or 2, this year they’re asking for one less and donating their other “wish” to a solider in fighting abroad. They don’t need it, and if they’re going to get far more by sending that soldier a gift than ANYTHING I could have bought.
So Black Friday what?
I’ll be playing with my kids.
So Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1, otherwise known as HP7.5, has officially opened. But is it worth the wait? The price? The time?
I, along with 25 other super-nerds, hit the 9:30am showing this morning. It a blink of an eye it was light up and 12 noon. You know it’s a good flick when you lose your sense of time, having been dragged under by the the story, characters and ambiance. And I was. Completely.
I’m also a willing victim. I’ve read all the books and deeply love the premise and adventures of Harry Potter. I think that this is not something you can just waltz in on, or you will be disappointed. So please read the book before you bash this movie, it’s not for the uninitiated. It’s also surely the darkest of the series and far, far more scary than the rest. It also isn’t for small children and kids probably under 10. I’d say, depending on your child, if they’ve read the books and don’t scare that easily (I jumped out of my seat a couple of times) keep them home for this movie.
If I can to play the “like” game I’d say this: as a sequel, it’s like Empire Strikes Back or Aliens because it is just as good as the first installment, a rare thing. I’d also is like “Return of the King” (another great sequel) in feeling and execution. Both dark and suspenseful– you feel the desperation of our protagonists and tension/interplay of good and evil in a very palpable way. References to Nazi jackbooted fascism and persecution abound. But what I found unique and fresh is that these are children as heroes, in a very real adult tale, with the almost 17 y.o. Harry as the Jesus-like “Chosen One”. A weight felt by Harry at every turn — and especially so here — when the savior is at a lost as how to save himself, let alone the world.
This gets a very highly recommendation by me for adults and older kids.
Let me know what you think….
Here is the official trailer:
Sometimes the Business of Life is… pursuing new interests.
Ahh. I just put together a Girl Scout event, with 14 little girls to visit a bakery. I’ve already planned a school Fall Fair. I’ve volunteered sorting cans, at the dump (!), to raise money for the the school. I’ve read to Baby Lug’s preschool class. Helped at one of the twin’s class Halloween party. I’ve got another holiday party for the Toaster (as yet unscheduled, but I’m thinking Valentine’s) and a docent art (Expressionism!) to do in May. And I’m DONE. So I consider myself on sabbatical until after the New Year.
So what’s LeBetsy to do?
The Mob. Well not “do” the mob (how would one do that, and, really, what does it mean?) but start researching it.
You see I’ve a germ of a story and I’d like to see if it could be fleshed out. Could it be a good story? Something I’d post here for y’all to read and revile? Jeepers, I’d never even thought I’d do a blog, so who knows? I think I became a mathematics major in college to get out of writing. I usually had too many ideas to pare down to a well-honed argument. Lack of discipline perhaps.
But a couple of things have changed since college to help me out:
Ok, so back to the Mob.
So I’m starting slowly and locally. Whitey Bulger. Book called Brutal: The Untold Story of My Life Inside Whitey Bulger’s Irish Mob. Don’t know how it will fit into my germ-of-a-story but what I love about following random tangents like this is the prospect of the new. I know nothing about the Irish mob, or Whitey Bulger. Sure I’ve seen the movies, heard the stories but nothing close to the real story. And even if it’s a huge blow-out, I usually get a door-prize of it jump-starting another idea or tangent that is more on the mark.
Life’s a journey, not a destination, and the (personally) less-traveled road is often the most interesting. Challenging. Fun.
Whatever happens, I’ll keep you apprised.
Ok I love Entourage. Don’t hate me. I was once Lloyd in real life, minus the gay and about 40 lbs lighter. And a girl. It’s definitely a heightened version of Hollywood, so don’t go asking me “is it really really like that?” It is, but not all the time, and certainly not for everyone. You hear the good stories, you know who the people some of the characters are based on and yes they are that mean, nasty, psychotic, yada, yada, yada.
But I still like watching it.
So I guess a sanitized version is coming to SPIKE TV. And the usual “Hey Entourage is coming to SPIKE TV” marketing is probably happening: print, commercials placed on cable, billboards. But they also did this little gem of a viral video and it’s damn clever. DAMN CLEVER. It’s “The Sexy Women of Entourage” and they’ve managed to hunt down all the bit-part pole dancers, one night stands and hook-ups our merry men entangled with. Built from their perspective — land the role on Entourage (yay!) to actual part ( “girl who blows Drama” –boo!) and it’s done as a rap video. They actually sourced some of real Entourage girls to sing, or at least be background (again) — they’re in on the joke and that’s why it works so well. It’s smart, cheeky, funny and totally re-tweetable, post-able (I am) and forward-able.
And that’s great viral marketing.
Totally not NSFW. Got it? TOTALLY not safe for work, or in front of the kids.
Sometimes The Business of LIfe is … contemplating the forks in the road.
Boy I expected to have this written by last night but I totally sacked out on my couch at 9pm. Unbelievable, but true.
I am confounded at this point by the choices. To stay awake. Do the work. To sleep. To take a break. The opportunity costs of choosing something different to focus on another. To lose time with my children. Time with my husband. Time with my friends. Time for myself. Losing opportunities with new ventures and adventures.
With but one person and 24 hours there is always the need to choose.
Forks in the road present themselves on a daily, often hourly basis.
How can we chose wisely?
Oy Vey! What a WEEK!
People did we survive the mid-term elections by the hair of our chinny-chin-chins or what?
As a raging independent in Massachusetts I was, as they say in the biz, a wanted commodity. Subjected to a hellacious amount of election phone calls, drowning in mailing inserts, I often pondered, by the 3rd dinner-time phone call, if I could apply for a restraining order against both major parties. It was getting a little out of hand..
But it’s over.
And frankly I’m pissed.
And not the good kind, though I’ve been tempted…
Now I’m not going to miss the calls, the mail or even the fun drive-bys (I totally know that you Scotty Brown ding-dong ditching. ) No I’m am completely bat-shit over the outcome. The freakin’ people of this state — the country decides it’s legislative spring cleaning and what does Mass do? — nothing. We voted in the same damn freaks that have been running this state into the ground. Not a single new person. State. Federal. Bupkus.
I am either convinced that:
And now I am starting to see myself as Dorthy in Oz. A stranger in a strange land.
Ok, let’s explore this metaphor. If I’m Dorothy, I’d like you to meet my loser sidekicks: The Cowardly Independents, The Mindless Scarecrow (only if could think for itself,) and The Weak-ass Tin Man (no heart). I’ve been watching these three bozo generalities vote Democratic from state (Governor and state legislation) to federal (Scott Brown being the exception, but I now think that was a fluke) — for over a decade. Each victory further solidifying the same agenda and local party-style: more big government, more taxes, more corruption, because as the saying goes “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Oh it does absolutely in MA.
So here I am, standing in my fab ruby shoes and pinafore, screaming to high-heaven to my three sidekicks “Wake up! There’s no wizard, there’s the same style of DEMOCRAT behind that curtain!”
But what do the trio do?
Oh they are still distracted by all the sparkly stuff: the “Yes we can!” and the “Hope” and the undercurrent of entitlement for all. Dude all you’re entitled to is a vote and most of you idiots don’t even do that. And yes we can go into more debt, and hope doesn’t pay the bill when it’s due.
So now we got The Wizard of four more years of bigger government, more taxes, and no long-term vision. In this state, it’s a temporarily “fix it and forget it” mentality. Mostly forget it. Forget the growing pension base, the culture of “gonna get me some” government workers and the ever-growing ($108b) debt-level. (I know my friends in Cali are like laughing at $2b, but remember you folks are going down first.)
Oh Jeez, these people get what they deserve. And seriously stop acting surprised that people and businesses are leaving for NH, Texas and other economically conservative parts.
God this home-spun girl (by way of Orange County, CA aka “Reagan Country”) is appalled. Look I was just as appalled when Newt Gingrich showed up with the “Contract for A New America” — all I thought was the corruption that comes from bloated white guys being in charge of Congress. We got what we deserved then too. And we shouldn’t be so surprised either. This time is no different.
If only I could bitch slap’em, like Cher in the classic Moonstruck.
God how much would I love to walk up to the Cowardly Independent, The Weak Tin Man, and the Weak-Ass Scare Crow, smack them and scream “Snap outta of it!”
And have it work.