retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal reports this morning on the growing number of cooking camps in the US, where young people can learn and hone cooking skills. The trend seems to be a response both to foodie parents who are raising their kids to appreciate good food and know how to cook, as well as to the success of the Food Network.

The story quotes author and cooking show host Devin Alexander as saying that “so many people now see cooking as a way to become a star. Before, if you wanted to be famous and you wanted to be on TV, you had to become an actress."

I agree with her.

But in some ways, I find this distressing. Because it speaks to the lure of reality television, and how so many people seem to make a priority of gaining their ten minutes of fame via one of these shows.

Now, I have to admit something here. I never watch this stuff.

I keep hearing about this person called “Snookie,” but I’m telling you that I could not pick her out of a police lineup if my life depended on it. I’m not even entirely sure why she is famous; I guess she’s on some show that is supposed to be about New Jersey, but it is like my inner radar keeps me from reading any stories about it, and I could not even tell you what cable channel it is on.

“The Real Housewives of ...” is something that I never will watch.

I don’t even like shows like “Survivor” or “American Idol,” though I’m aware of their existence and occasionally will watch a few minutes if my wife or daughter have them on.

I know that I probably should know more about this stuff, but I can’t bring myself to look at it. If I want reality TV, I’ll watch news or sports.

I have nothing against people who accomplish something and end up getting famous. But it is the yearning for fame for fame’s sake that I find to be just plain weird.

And it does not speak well of our culture as a whole.

Then again, maybe it is a reflection of an economy in which people get rich selling stuff, but not actually making stuff.



“Inception” is an amazing movie - the kind of film that has people debating its meanings and ending long after they leave the movie theater. Even people who don’t love the Christopher Nolan film seem interested in talking about it afterwards. The look of the film is gorgeous and highly innovative, and you’ll wonder how some of the scenes were even shot. I do have one bit of advice - see it on a big screen with a great sound system. “Inception” is worth the effort.



My 21-year-old son was amazed to find out the other day that I’d never seen an Angelina Jolie movie from start to finish. In fact, I was a little surprised by this - I’ve seen clips from a lot of her films, but none of them from start to finish.

Which is why he took me to see “Salt,” which is a James Bond-Jason Bourne wannabe that is, nevertheless, very entertaining with enough twists and turns to keep the audience engaged and prepare the ground for possible sequels. Jolie is very good...though I have no idea why she’s become such an icon. Still, “Salt” is worth a visit, especially on a hot summer day when the cold air conditioning of a movie theater seems particularly inviting.




To follow up on one thing mentioned by Michael in his “Eye-Opener”...many thanks to Shawn and Jason Ravitz, who took us to visit stores (including their ShopRite store in South Jersey), eat cheesesteaks at Tony Luke’s, and then to a New York Mets-Philadelphia Phillies game last Friday at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. We had a fabulous time right up until the eighth inning, when the Mets - in their inimitable fashion - gave up the lead.

Great day...great night...and great guys. Thanks.




I’m not sure which of the following things is more insulting.

An MNB reader informed me yesterday that he knew of a “few supermarket executives” who have called me a “Pinko Commie.”

This same MNB reader said that he believes that I write the things I write just to be outrageous, and that my “opinions are about as real as pro wrestling.”

Actually, now that I write them down, I’m very sure which one is more insulting.

The second one.

You see, if someone reads MNB and thinks I am a “Pinko Commie” (a turn of the phrase which itself seems dated and anachronistic), then they aren’t paying attention ... or are so locked into their own ideological perspective that anyone who disagrees ends up being assigned a label that I assume they think is the worst kind of insult. Either way, I can live with this.

But fake opinions?

What have I ever done to deserve this?

You may think I’m right, or you may think I’m wrong, but please rest assured that the opinions expressed here are authentic, hand-crafted opinions. Some people may like to say outrageous things just to get noticed (and in certain cases, draw attention to their consulting businesses), but that’s not the goal here.




And that’s it for this week.

Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you Monday.

Fins Up!

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