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    Published on: January 22, 2008

    Numerous published reports say that Whole Foods Markets will announce today that it will eliminate the usage of disposable plastic shopping bags by April 22 – Earth Day. The decision affects all 270 of its stores, in the US, Canada and the UK.

    According to the company, this will mean that approximately 100 million plastic bags will not end up in the nation’s landfills between April 22 and the end of the year.

    USA Today reports that “in place of the fly-away plastic bags scorned by many environmentalists, Whole Foods will offer several options: free paper bags in four sizes made from 100% recycled paper, reusable bags 80% made from recycled plastic bottles for 99 cents and canvas bags selling for $6.99 to $35. It encourages consumers to bring their own bags by taking 5 cents to 10 cents off the bill for each.”

    And, the paper notes, “While Whole Foods is tiny compared with the rest of the retail grocery industry, its role as a trendsetter is huge. Whole Foods' success played a major role in nudging top supermarket chains to sell organic foods.”

    KC's View:
    This is an important move, and one that I suspect more companies will follow.

    It seems inevitable that more and more cities, counties and even states will begin banning the use of disposable plastic bags, and it simply makes sense for the retailers that hand out most of the bags to get ahead of the curve. Whole Foods is doing exactly that, and is doing so in a way that fits perfectly into its broader brand message.

    Smart move.

    Published on: January 22, 2008

    by Michael Sansolo

    Yogi Berra once said, “You can observe a lot by just watching.” Then again, maybe you can’t.

    Last week I had my first opportunity to visit the new Tesco Fresh & Easy format in Arizona. Actually it was two opportunities at two different stores and the verdict is simple. Fresh & Easy is lousy; it’s colorless and seems to be completely misaimed. And it may just work.

    That’s a little contradictory, I know, but these days what isn’t? Yet in this case, the details will help.

    First, the pre-visit. Over the past few weeks, I’ve had discussions with numerous friends in the F&E marketplace and I’ve heard all manner of reviews. Some reported the stores doing well, while others saw a disaster. Some talked of it being the transformational shopping experience Tesco not only promised, but has delivered in the United Kingdom. Others said it looked like just one more example of a European company coming to the US and finding out that they knew nothing about America.

    Upon visiting my first F&E, I would have totally signed up with the negative opinions except that I thought they were too kind. The store I visited looked lifeless, boring, confusing and unappetizing. The only saving grace seemed to be that there were so few shoppers in the store to actually notice the retail disaster unfolding around them.

    Tesco, it seemed, had blown it. Actually, it was me who blew it.

    Two days later I visited a second Fresh & Easy in a very different neighborhood and the picture could not have been more different. While not exactly jammed with shoppers, the traffic was strong and steady and the shoppers were doing exactly what Tesco no doubt dreamed of originally. All were filling shopping carts with a mix of prepared food items with staples.

    One woman I spoke with said F&E has altered her mealtime preparation as she loaded up on a three different prepared dinners. (Lasagna was her favorite.) When I asked her about some pre-packed lunch snack packs filled with carrots, fruit, cheese and juice she examined it for one second and proceeded to place four in her cart. The snack packs, she said, are exactly the kind of healthy solution she seeks for her kids.

    She wasn’t alone. Another women told me the pre-pack produce - a big negative in the eyes of many retailers - was a great idea and looked terrific. Fresh & Easy may not be a store for foodies, but many shoppers aren’t in that category. For today’s increasingly cooking-illiterate shoppers, the notion of picking every apple or pear might be less attractive than we all think.

    And on top of those prepared options, shoppers were buying milk, detergent, wine and basically all the kinds of products that supermarkets in Phoenix will hate to surrender. As a friend of mine in Phoenix said, it’s hard for him to pass by Fresh & Easy these days unless a shopping trip demands something that the store simply doesn’t stock. Most interestingly of all, Fresh & Easy - like Costco before it - seems capable of drawing a highly affluent shopper to its low service, Spartan environment. High-end European cars dominated the parking lot.

    Fresh & Easy would hardly be the first value format to find a warm reception among shoppers who can afford better and a soft economy might only help.

    Of course, none of this means much at all. That I saw a terrible store in a low-income area and a good one in an affluent community isn’t any guarantee of future direction, success or failure. What’s clear is Fresh & Easy is good enough that it won’t be easily dismissed or eliminated.

    And likely, we see an even bigger battle when version 2.0 or 3.0 is being rolled out in the market place.

    Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at msansolo@morningnewsbeat.com .

    KC's View:

    Published on: January 22, 2008

    Bloomberg News reports that 11 multinational companies – including Tesco, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Nestle, L’Oreal and Unilever - announced that they have begun evaluating their supply chains to determine what impact they are having on the environment. Each company, the story says, is questioning as many as 50 of their suppliers to determine the extent of their carbon footprints and their greenhouse gas emissions.

    The information is being compiled so that the companies aided by an organization called the Carbon Disclosure Project can provide the information to investor groups that are interested in companies’ environmental track records.

    Meanwhile, the Toronto Globe and Mail reports that Loblaw Cos. is considering the addition of carbon footprint information to a number of its private label products.

    KC's View:
    It was surprising in the Globe and Mail story to see a grocery analyst suggesting that while Loblaw was trying to differentiate its products, the carbon footprint labeling amounts to just an effort to get on the environmental bandwagon that would have no long-term value.

    Which strikes me as terribly short-sighted. There probably was a time when people talked that way about nutrition labels and warning labels on tobacco products, but those things have become both common, expected – and a matter of law. There is no compelling reason to think that this can’t happen with carbon footprint labeling as well.

    I think that carbon footprint information is going to become common currency. Companies that don't think so are running a risk…and I think would be far better served to try to get ahead of the curve. Otherwise, the footprints they’ll end up most worried about are those of the retailers that are ahead of them.

    Published on: January 22, 2008

    The Washington Post reported that opponents of so-called “cloned food” – milk and meat that comes from cloned animals or their progeny – are reacting to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decision to approve such products for human consumption by switching tactics.

    Now, the Post writes, these consumer groups are looking to influence legislators and get them to force cloned food producers to label their products as such. The FDA ruling did not require labeling, and said that there is no difference between cloned food and non-cloned food. However, political pressure could result in legislation that would supersede the FDA’s recommendations.

    The Post writes: “Clone companies oppose labels, seeing them as little more than a tool to help wary consumers avoid clone-derived products. Companies note that meat and milk products from conventionally bred animals are not labeled with details about how those animals were conceived. And the FDA has generally reserved mandatory labeling for things that present a real risk … Separately, some consumer groups are wondering aloud how the FDA will live up to its promise to keep an eye on the quickly evolving field of animal cloning and protect the public from unexpected problems.”

    KC's View:
    I love lines like, “Clone companies oppose labels, seeing them as little more than a tool to help wary consumers avoid clone-derived products.” As if consumers have no right to avoid such foods if they so choose.

    That strikes me as industry arrogance. And it won’t play well among consumers who are going to demand more, not less, transparency from all the companies with which they do business.

    Published on: January 22, 2008

    There has been a lot of discussion here on MNB in recent weeks about McDonald’s advertising on the report cards of students going to school in Seminole County, Florida, as well as the use of free Happy Meals to reward kids for good grades. McDonald’s and the keepers of the Seminole ivory towers – if indeed there are actual rather than metaphorical ivory towers in Seminole, Florida – pulled the plug on the program last week after being roundly criticized…and the discussion continues in “Your Views,” below.

    However, in Texas the Lufkin Daily News reports that H-E-B has initiated a new partnership with the Slack Elementary School there, teaching second graders “how to be a ‘Healthy Buddy’ and using physical education classes to provide them with tools they can use to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

    “Tiffany Newcomb, the H-E-B Be a Healthy Buddy program representative, on Thursday came equipped with apples, mini chocolate bars, pedometers and journals for the students,” the Daily News reports. “Program mascot, H-E-Buddy, a large paper bag filled with healthy foods, made a brief visit to say hello to the children.”

    Kim Holloway, a gym teacher at the school, gas gotten the students to use the pedometers to track how many steps they take each day, and then record the number of steps they take in their journals.

    “Holloway then asked review questions about the digestive system to see what the students learned from her talk. For each question she asked, multiple hands were raised … Holloway then told students they would get to choose between an apple and a chocolate bar as a snack. She explained that the chocolate bar was a ‘sometimes snack’ — a snack that was alright once in a while — and would not stay in the digestive system as long as an apple because it has less nutrients. She also reminded them that if they chose the chocolate bar they would have to exercise more to ‘work it off.’

    As the students filed by the table, some opted for the candy bar. Most however, went straight for the apple.

    The school has other initiatives designed to keep kids moving, including a running program every Tuesday and Thursday. Students earn plastic foot charms for running a specific number of laps, until they earn enough to get the Golden Shoes Award — real shoes spray-painted gold.”

    KC's View:
    So at the Slack Elementary School they get Golden Shoes…while in Seminole, Florida, they get Golden Arches.

    I know which one works for me.

    But I think we’ll leave this discussion for “Your Views.”

    Published on: January 22, 2008

    The Washington Post reports this morning that “after more than 30 years of deliberation, federal regulators have proposed requiring the alcoholic-beverage industry to put nutrition and alcohol-content labels on their containers … (which) for the first time would mandate disclosure of how many carbohydrates and calories and how much protein and fat alcoholic drinks contain, as food labels do.”

    The change is being pushed by consumer groups, according to the Post, and there are numerous concerns “about cost, placement and shape of the label and how alcohol content is disclosed.”

    While the US Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau has made the proposal, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) says it is “astonished” that the government would suggest that the proposed nutrition labels would not include alcohol content.

    KC's View:

    Published on: January 22, 2008

    Wal-Mart announced yesterday that it has decided to eliminate about 1,000 magazines from its list of eligible titles that can be sold in its stores, which virtually cuts the number of approved magazines in half.

    The company described it as a decision made to “fine tune” its selection so that it was more in line with its customers’ interests and needs. The eliminated titles reportedly were either slow-movers or magazines that did almost no business in Wal-Mart stores, such as The New Yorker and SI Kids.

    KC's View:
    While there are some of us who believe that a newsstand isn’t a newsstand unless it sells The New Yorker, the fact is that if it ain’t selling, Wal-Mart ought not carry it.

    Sounds like a sound business move to me.

    Published on: January 22, 2008

    The Deal reports that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) continues to pursue its case against Whole Foods’ acquisition of Wild Oats, and now has “asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Monday to order Whole Foods not to close any of the stores it acquired in the merger while the FTC proceeds with an in-house trial.”

    The FTC has long opposed the acquisition of Wild Oats by Whole Foods, but while its efforts have been blocked by the courts, the agency has continued to work against it…even now, months after the deal has been closed.

    KC's View:
    The guys at the FTC are obviously the kind of people who think that Javert is the hero of “Les Miserables,” and that Gerard is the real hero of ‘The Fugitive.”

    Published on: January 22, 2008

    John Menzer, 56, the co-vice chairman of Wal-Mart Stores, announced over the weekend that he will retire from the company on March 1. No reason for the retirement was given.

    According to the statement released by the company, “Following Menzer's announcement, the company will move major support functions into the individual businesses to achieve tighter focus, alignment and accountability. Responsibility for the logistics and real estate divisions will be assumed by Eduardo Castro-Wright, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores U. S. The company's information systems division will report directly to CEO Lee Scott and Vice Chairman Mike Duke will now have responsibility for global procurement.”

    Menzer was named chief administrative officer of the company less than a year ago, and Bloomberg notes that one of his responsibilities was “strategic planning as it sought to revive U.S. sales growth. Last year, sales at stores open at least a year had their smallest gain in at least 27 years.”

    KC's View:
    Menzer’s young age and the lack of a stated reason for retirement will lead a lot of people to wonder if this is just the beginning of some executive changes at Wal-Mart.

    Then again, he was making more than $12 million a year…so maybe it was time to smell the roses.

    Published on: January 22, 2008

    Fascinating story this morning on page one of the Wall Street Journal about how former President Bill Clinton stands to receive a $20 million windfall – in part because of Whole Foods’ acquisition of Wild Oats.

    The reason? Since 2002, Clinton has been a paid advisor to Yucaipa Cos., the investment firm owned by billionaire Ron Burkle, and his deal gave him a piece of the action from two investment funds. “The sales in recent months of Wild Oats Markets Inc. and Pathmark Stores Inc. produced several hundred million dollars in profits for the two Clinton-related Yucaipa domestic funds, which had big shareholdings in the two supermarket chains,” the Journal writes. “Profits from the sales helped to push the funds above the earnings threshold needed to generate a multimillion-dollar payday for the former president, according to public documents related to the sales and other information.”

    Clinton will get the check, according to the story, because he currently is severing his relationship with Yucaipa – because there are concerns that it could hurt the prospects of NY Senator Hillary Clinton, his wife, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination.

    “Mr. Clinton is also looking to close out partnership interests in a Yucaipa fund that focuses on investing in foreign companies,” the Journal reports. “This fund -- called Yucaipa Global Partnership Fund LP -- has raised several hundred million dollars from a range of investors. Unlike his deal to advise the two Yucaipa domestic funds, Mr. Clinton invested an undisclosed sum of his own money in the global fund and has a limited partnership interest.

    “Mr. Clinton is also one of three owners of the global fund's general partner. The others are Mr. Burkle, who is the managing member, and an entity connected to the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum.”

    KC's View:
    Maybe presidential candidates’ opinions should have country of origin labeling?

    Published on: January 22, 2008

    Stew Leonard’s, which has opened successful wine stores near or adjacent to its food stores in Connecticut and New York, as well as one freestanding wine and liquor store on Long Island, reportedly will open two new wine stores in New Jersey later this year – in Paramus and Clifton. Sources tell MNB, however, that at this time there are no plans to open food stores in New Jersey.
    KC's View:

    Published on: January 22, 2008

    • Numerous reports say that Wal-Mart is expected to open stores in Russia within two years, most likely by taking a minority ownership position in an existing chain there and then expanding its stake in the company over time….much like it has done with Seiyu in Japan.
    KC's View:

    Published on: January 22, 2008

    • IGA Inc has named its three US Retailers of the Year: Mike Carper, of Mick or Mack IGA, Newscastle, Va.; Tim Henderson, Henderson's IGA, Valentine, Neb.; and Gregory Lukeman, IGA Bohemia, Bohemia, N.Y. The three retailers will be honored at the IGA Global Summit in March.

    • The Grand Rapids Press reports that Spartan Stores Inc. plans to spend $8 million to build a two-story, 40,000 sq. ft., “flagship” D&W Fresh Market store in that city,” capping a stretch of new medical buildings going up along part of Michigan Street known as the Medical Mile.”

    • Ahold announced that it has entered into negotiations with Schuitema N.V. in The Netherlands and CVC Capital Partners about a potential divestment of its majority interest in Schuitema’s 50+ stores to CVC.

    • The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Australia’s new major supermarkets chains – Woolworths and Coles – “are building their offerings around convenience for time-poor shoppers and fresh-and-healthy products as part of a global trend towards health-conscious living. Shoppers at the leading grocery players will see new products and a changing emphasis in stores.” The story suggests that the time-poor and health conscious shoppers are largely perceived as being the same people…and that the chains will spend upwards of $800 million (US) on refurbishments to appeal to them on two fronts at the same time.

    KC's View:

    Published on: January 22, 2008

    Suzanne Pleshette, who played Bob Newhart’s wife Emily on the old “Bob Newhart Show,” died Saturday at age 70. The cause was respiratory failure, likely related to a long bout with lung cancer.
    KC's View:
    Was there ever a better sitcom wife than Pleshette’s Emily Hartley, who was sarcastic and wise and sexy as her psychologist husband dealt with the assorted patients who came through his office?

    And was there ever a better ending to a sitcom than to Newhart’s second series, in which he played a New England innkeeper…and then, in the final moments of the final episode, woke up in his bed from the first series, next to Pleshette, and realized that the entire second series had been a dream?

    Class acts all.

    Published on: January 22, 2008

    Okay, let’s get to it…the ongoing discussion about childhood obesity, the roles of parents and schools, the use of McDonald’s Happy Meals to reward good students in Florida, etc…

    MNB user Mark Delaney wrote:

    As a parent, I struggle with local schools banning "cupcake Friday" but at the same time feel that this is simply their "easy out" - a pathetic attempt to address the larger issue of childhood obesity and inactivity. I look at the unhealthy food offered in my children's' cafeteria and can hear the excuses now - "this is a state decision" or "we have limited options with our current suppliers" etc. These are the same people who swear up and down to have our children's' best interests at heart and while many of them do believe that they need to take a minute and look around.

    Watching children coming down the hall after a recent school event shocked my wife and I in that so many of these elementary school age children were overweight. At the same time, neighbors of ours recently commented how nice it was to see our children playing outside as they rarely see other neighbors' children simply running around like I did when I was their age. At the same time, gym keeps getting cut and in the name of "safety" they've banned nearly every schoolyard game that involves physical activity - first tag, then dodge ball - I honestly don't know what they're expected to do in the playground anymore - maybe just play their video games outside???

    Good for McDonalds for at least trying to do the right thing and shame on any school administrators that claimed to have the kids’ interest at heart. We owe it to our children to start leading by example and sitting down to a reasonably healthy meal on a regular basis is something every parent should strive for - and if after school activities preclude that maybe we need to reevaluate how scheduled we want our kids to be!


    Another MNB user wrote:

    How can getting to go to Mc Donald's 4 times a year for getting a great report card be causing our children to be obese?

    I think People are to quick to blame the corporate world for what they as parents cannot or will not control, what do they allow their children to eat the rest of the year?

    How much time is spent running around playing and not on the couch in front of the TV. or the computer playing games.

    That should be the question!


    I wrote last week that I wasn’t trying to demonize fast food, which led one MNB user to write:

    What makes you think you're not "demonizing fast food"????

    You’re right. I probably am. Guilty as charged.

    MNB user Carla Baughman wrote:

    It's not that I completely disagree with you, or even believe that a fast food company should be in such a relationship with schools. But I have to wonder if the outcry came from parents who may be incensed over fast food, yet allow junk food in their homes (soda, chips, etc.). Schools can do more, but eating right begins at home (before children ever get to school) and the majority of responsibility is on the parents.

    I remember growing up when McDonald's was a treat reserved for special accomplishments (after a dance recital, getting good grades on a report card, etc.). Fast food wasn't a substitute dinner one or more times a week like it is today for many families.

    Obesity is a big issue in this country. But I think a bigger issue is personal responsibility and the lack of it. McDonald's does offer healthier choices, is it their fault if you choose the burger and fries all the time?


    And another MNB user wrote:

    From the mouth of a young man (my son) who just graduated from a Seminole County High School...

    The problem is not the school or the fast food restaurants. WE all live with the same options, choices, and temptations.

    The difference? What the parents teach their children.

    BTW they have a required course on nutrition, the crux of their message...We can give you all of the information you need to make good choices, but YOU have to make the decision.


    MNB user Bob Gregg wrote:

    First and foremost, schools and more importantly PARENTS should be teaching children about nutrition, moderation and exercise. In doing so they establish strong guidelines for foods that can be eaten anytime (fruits, vegetables, milk and whole grains) and foods that are special treats (fast food and sweets). If we can agree on that, then WHY NOT use special treats like McDonalds and Pizza Hut as added incentive to do well in school.

    I know many parents like myself that provide their children with healthy eating guidelines and the use rewards like the occasional Happy Meal to reward desired behavior, do you think we are sending the wrong message? I also support my local Little League during candy drives and am currently helping my daughter sell Girl Scout cookies do you think I'm sending wrong messages here too?

    And by the way, compete is a verb right? If McDonalds can create a rewards program and partner with schools in Seminole then so can Publix, right?


    I get the point.

    Let me be clear, one more time.

    I am not suggesting that parents have no responsibility. Far from it.

    For the record, we have virtually eliminated all fast food from the Coupe household. We just don't do it, because we’ve all agreed that we’re better served by cooking and eating at home. When we go out – which is the exception rather than the rule – we’ll spend a little more money to get a better meal, and we can afford to do it because we don't do it that often. So I’m not just preaching about parental responsibility.

    That said, as a parent – and as a taxpayer – I think I am within my rights to suggest that the schools that I help to underwrite not pursue policies that nudge kids in the direction of the local fast food joint, just as I am within my rights to push for more physical education classes and a greater emphasis on health and nutrition in both the classroom and the cafeteria.

    At the same time, I am not being dogmatic about this. I think parents should be allowed to bring in cupcakes to celebrate kids’ birthdays, and I believe in the notion of intelligent indulgence. But at a time when obesity clearly is a national issue, I think we have to be both consistent and smart about this.

    And that does not include letting McDonald’s advertise on report cards and using Happy Meals as a reward mechanism.




    MNB had a story the other day about how at least one investment analyst was pushing Supervalu to sell its distribution business as a way of maximizing shareholder value. Michael Sansolo commented that it was astonishing that “distribution is what powered Supervalu to its place in the world and now distribution is seen as a ‘non-core asset’? Says who?”

    And I commented that this seems typical of stock analysts, who are more interested in short-term returns than the long-term health of a company.

    One MNB user responded:

    Remember Fleming? Voluntary distribution has become an u profitable enterprise as seen by the decline in distribution results of the few major wholesalers that are left. In many areas of the country, the cooperative wholesalers are thriving thanks to contraction of the regional chain industry, how they leverage resources through their trade groups and their investment in real estate and other assets.

    Progressive, profitable independent retailers seem to always be welcome as cooperative members. They will have a place to go. Unfortunately, voluntary distributors "carry" many marginal independents and non-self distributing chains to justify their existence.

    Fleming was unable to sell its total independent distribution business, with most of the profitable divisions purchased by cooperatives and a number of divisions shuttered. Fleming's financially sound independent operators are still in business, many as members of cooperatives, and in several cases have grown substantially.

    Supervalu might meet with the same result as you must attract financially sound retailers to fund the distribution process.

    While some investment group, like Cerberus, may find the "non-core" assets appealing for what's on the balance sheet, the long term viability of serving the independent retailer as a voluntary wholesaler would diminish over time in my opinion.


    Another MNB user wrote:

    Supervalu started as wholesaler that bought some regional chains in the hopes of several of their independent retailers would pick them up piecemeal. They usually proved to be much better wholesales than retailers. I think the wholesale side carried the retail. Those were the days of slotting allowances, forward-buys, diverting. They are pretty much the last ones standing, Wetterau and Fleming having succumbed over the last decade or so.

    SV is committed now to both retail and wholesale but I think wholesale is their expertise---not the other way around. Maybe GM should divest the automotive assembly and sell parts, much more profitable too---analyst’s logic.


    Another MNB user chimed in:

    Supervalu's independent customers would be well-advised to start looking around for alternative sources of supply. The comment from the Bank of America analyst sounds a lot like what eventually led up to the Fleming demise. It was probably good strategy for the shareholders of Supervalu when they decided to buy what they wanted of Albertson's to bolster their distribution divisions, but it was not good for their independent customers who got them to where they are today.

    Fleming's decision to bolster their distribution divisions by buying chains led them straight to bankruptcy because they turned their backs on their independent customers by changing their key personnel to mostly ex-chain store middle managers who were over their heads, and who didn't understand the entrepreneurs and their way of doing business.

    All this reminds me of the 1950s and 1960s when independents established their retailer-owned co-ops and got away from conventional wholesalers. Since then, there has been a consolidation of retailer-owned co-ops into a few highly successful ones while Supervalu and a couple of other conventional wholesalers are the only other viable suppliers left. Those successful retailer-owned suppliers aren't going anywhere-they plan to continue to grow with independents and smaller regional chains. Like someone said: "They're gonna dance with those that brought 'em."

    Perhaps Supervalu needs to remember that independents are, well, independent.


    And still another MNB user wrote:

    I completely agree with Sansolo...the suggestion to sell the core business indicates that the analyst knows nothing about the industry or the history of SV…was this guy born yesterday or what?

    And another MNB user offered:

    This piece on Supervalu is interesting because I hear conflicting stories from Supervalu employees and competitors of the company. I recently heard that Supervalu aggressive pursued and acquired two large Independent customers from the competition in OH... yet I hear from Supervalu Wholesale division associates that they are greatly lacking continued support from the company as all of the resources seem to be going to the retail divisions and frustrations are high.

    And MNB user Doug Campbell wrote:

    Ever wonder if analysts have anything to do with the dismal condition of our economy?

    Often.

    KC's View:

    Published on: January 22, 2008

    This is a little late, since MNB took yesterday off, but it is worth noting that in a football game that almost everyone said was one of the most thrilling ever played, the New York Giants defeated the Green Bay Packers 23-20 to win the NFC Championship.

    And, the still-undefeated New England Patriots defeated the San Diego Chargers 21-12 to win the AFC Championship.

    The Giants will meet the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII on Sunday, February 3 … and the Pats have already been installed by the odds makers as 14 point favorites.

    KC's View:
    Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes is a great role model, at least in a metaphorical sense. First, he missed a field goal that would have given the Giants some space. Then, he misses another field goal that would have won the game. And then, in overtime, faced with a 47-yard field goal that seemed impossible to make, he grabs his helmet, runs out on the field and drills it.

    If at first you don't succeed…

    Published on: January 22, 2008

    The Oscar nominations were announced this morning, and the major nominees include:

    Best Picture
    Atonement
    Juno
    Michael Clayton
    No Country For Old Men
    There Will Be Blood


    Best Actor
    George Clooney, “Michael Clayton”
    Daniel Day Lewis, “There Will Be Blood”
    Johnny Depp, “Sweeny Todd”
    Tommy Lee Jones, “In The Valley of Elah”
    Viggo Mortensen, “Eastern Promises”


    Best Actress
    Cate Blanchett, “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”
    Julie Christie, “Away From Her”
    Marion Cotillard, “La Vie En Rose”
    Laura Linney, “Savages”
    Ellen Page, “Juno”


    Best Supporting Actor
    Casey Affleck, “The Assasination of Jesse James…”
    Javier Bardem, “No Country For Old Men”
    Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Charlie Wilson’s War”
    Hal Holbrook, “Into The Wild”
    Tom Wilkinson, “Michael Clayton”


    Best Supporting Actress
    Cate Blanchett, “I’m Not There”
    Ruby Dee, “American Gangster”
    Saoirse Ronan, “Atonement”
    Amy Ryan, “Gone Baby Gone”
    Tilda Swinton, “Michael Clayton”



    Best Directing
    “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”
    “Juno”
    “Michael Clayton”
    “No Country For Old Men”
    “There Will Be Blood”


    Best Original Screenplay
    “Juno”
    “Lars and The Real Girl”
    “Michael Clayton”
    “Ratatouille”
    “Savages”


    Best Adapted Screenplay
    “Atonement”
    “Away From Her”
    “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”
    “No Country For Old Men”
    “There Will Be Blood”


    The Oscars are scheduled to be awarded on Sunday, February 24.

    KC's View: