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    Published on: March 28, 2013

    This commentary is available as both text and video; enjoy both or either. To see past FaceTime commentaries, go to the MNB Channel on YouTube.

    Hi, I'm Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.

    I had an interesting experience the other day that I think illustrates a couple of business lessons.

    Last summer, when I started teaching at Portland State University, my wife got me a new watch - this Timex that I'm wearing on my wrist. It's not that she wouldn't have gotten me something fancier and more expensive, but I had seen the watch, liked the way it looked, and frankly, I don't need anything more extravagant. It was a thoughtful present to mark the beginning of an exciting time for me.

    Now, almost a year later, I'm aware of the fact that the leather watchband is getting a little worn, so I figured I'd go on the Timex website and order a couple of replacement bands to have on hand for the inevitable moment when this one breaks. (I wanted to order a couple because I'm sort of anal that way - I always buy lots of lightbulbs to have in case something blows, and when I find a shirt I like I'll buy several, just so I'm covered.)

    The problem was, when I went on the Timex site, there didn't seem to be any place to buy the watchband. I could buy a watch, but no watchband. And when I went on Amazon and Google, I also couldn't figure out a way to do it online. So I emailed the company asking how to buy a watchband, and they sent me back an email with a phone number.

    I called the number and listened to a recording telling me that if I wanted to buy a watchband, I should write a check in the following amount and send it to the following address with the specific information.

    A check? Really?

    So I pushed "zero" several times on the phone and finally got this nice lady with a thick Southern drawl, to whom I explained my problem. 'Well, I'd be happy to take your order over the phone and charge your credit card," she said. I told her that this was fine, but asked how come I couldn't do this online.

    "Well, sir," she said. "If you could do it online, I wouldn't have a job."

    I have to admit she had me there ... and she seemed like a sweet old woman, so I placed the order and got the watchbands in the mail a few days later.

    In the end, though, I was dissatisfied with the whole experience. I wanted to grab someone at Timex by the lapels, shake them, and say, "This is 2013! What's wrong with you?"

    I can't be the only consumer who feels this way.

    I am, however, a consumer with a soapbox. I wanted to know whey they were doing things this way. So I called Timex headquarters and asked to speak with the press office. They referred me to a public relations company and gave me a name. I called, left a message, and then got a message back saying that this person was leaving the company and was being replaced by this other person. After several calls, this person finally called me back, and I explained my question.

    Well, she said, I'm here to talk to the media, not take consumer complaints.

    While this may be a consumer complaint, I said, I happen to be a member of the media...and I'm writing a column about this experience. I want to know why Timex has limited online options on its website. She sort of grumbled a bit, but said she'd try to get me an answer.

    That was more than a week ago. I've given up.

    But here's the lesson. Companies these days have numerous potential touchpoints at which they can have an impact on the shopper experience. You have to exploit every one that you can, and manage the experiences to be the best they possibly can be.

    When you drop the ball, and I think that's what happened at Timex, the sound is a resounding "thud," and can be heard very clearly in a lot of places.

    That's what is on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.

    KC's View:

    Published on: March 28, 2013

    by Kevin Coupe

    "Crowning the Customer, by the Irish food retailing legend Feargal Quinn, was published more than two decades ago, but it remains not just one of the best books about retailing that I've ever read, but a need-to-read primer about how one small Irish supermarket chain carved out a global reputation with a unrelenting focus on customer service. The lesson of "Crowning the Customer" is not that its precepts are easy to implement (because, let's face it, many companies are culturally engineered to resist real shopper-focused innovation), but that the effort is worth it.

    Now, Feargal Quinn is back with a new book that is worth reading if you are in any retail business, at any level. "Mind Your Own Business: Survive and Thrive In Good Times and Bad" is just out, and it looks at how a variety of retail businesses have discovered or created differential advantages that allowed them to grow, even in an Irish economy that has been in a tailspin over the past few years.

    The book elaborates on a TV series that Quinn has been doing in Ireland over the past few years: "Feargal Quinn's Retail Therapy" has him going to stores and communities that have fallen on tough times, and helping owners and managers out of the doldrums. In the new book, Quinn intertwines their stories with some of his own at the Superquinn chain, illustrating that there is both an art and science to retailing; it isn't brain surgery, to be sure, but requires both a heart and a brain, working in concert to appeal to the hearts, brains and, in the case of the supermarket industry, stomaches of shoppers. And he does it in a way that is funny, charming, chock full of anecdotes (including a number that detail his own mistakes), and a breezy read.

    As I thumbed through "Mind Your Own Business," I started wondering whether Quinn's approach was really only applicable to individual stores or small, independent chains; he tends to focus on specific stores and shops, not big companies. But as I read on, I realized something important - that even the biggest chains are made up of individual stores that have to perform on an individual basis and be relevant and compelling to individual customers. If I go into a Kroger or a Safeway or a Wegmans or an HEB store, I'm not thinking about how these stores are part of some bigger entity. No, I'm thinking that this is my store, and I want it to speak to me and for me. Some big companies are better at this than others, but I think it is fair to say that everybody can get better at it. Which is why "Mind Your Own Business" is a must-read for retailers of any size in any venue.

    One note here. "Mind Your Own Business" has not yet been published in the US, but you can order it from third-party resellers on But if you're smart, you won't wait for it to come out here - you'll go to the publisher's website and order a copy or two or maybe a case or two so you can hand them out to store and department managers.

    But do it soon. Because it is an Eye-Opener.

    (My only complaint is that "Mind Your Own Business" is not available as an e-book, which would seem to be a drastic miscalculation by the publisher. They should fix that now!)
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 28, 2013

    Yesterday, we reported that Walmart plans to test the use of lockers in six of its own stores that will hold for pickup merchandise ordered from its website, hoping that this will help it make the "last mile" between its online store and the shopper smoother and more convenient, and allow it to compete effectively with Amazon's much larger locker program.

    Well, now Reuters reports that Walmart "is considering a radical plan to have store customers deliver packages to online buyers, a new twist on speedier delivery services that the company hopes will enable it to better compete with ... A plethora of start-ups now help people make money by renting out a spare room, a car, or even a cocktail dress, and Wal-Mart would in effect be inviting people to rent out space in their vehicle and their willingness to deliver packages to others.

    "Such an effort would, however, face numerous legal, regulatory and privacy obstacles, and Wal-Mart executives said it was at an early planning stage." The idea is that "Wal-Mart has millions of customers visiting its stores each week. Some of these shoppers could tell the retailer where they live and sign up to drop off packages for online customers who live on their route back home ... Wal-Mart would offer a discount on the customers' shopping bill, effectively covering the cost of their gas in return for the delivery of packages."

    Reuters goes on to say that "tapping customers to deliver goods would put the world's largest retailer squarely in middle of a new phenomenon sometimes known as 'crowd-sourcing,' or the 'sharing economy'."

    The plan is said to be in the "brainstorming stage," and probably is a year or two from implementation.
    KC's View:
    I admire Walmart's willingness to consider ideas that certainly appear to be "out of the box." But in this case, I have real questions about this is a good idea or even workable.

    Maybe this is my cynical, Northeastern, urban-oriented self speaking, but I don't want some stranger to have my stuff in his car or truck, and I certainly don't want him or her coming up to my door. And I'm not sure that it makes sense for Walmart to entrust products - for which they bear responsibility until I take ownership of them - to people they don't know and have not vetted.

    This strikes me as a nightmare waiting to happen on all sorts of levels.

    Published on: March 28, 2013

    The Los Angeles Times reports that a new study, conducted by researchers at A.T. Still University in Arizona and McMaster University in Canada and published in the International Journal of Business Governance and Ethics, suggests that "women make better corporate leaders than men because they are more likely to make fair decisions when competing interests are at stake ... Male directors, who made up 75% of the survey sample, prefer making decisions using rules, regulations and tradition, the survey found. Female directors, by contrast, are less constrained by rules and more prepared to 'rock the boat,' the researchers found. They are also more likely 'to use cooperation, collaboration and consensus-building'."

    In addition, the story says, "Women leaders are more inquisitive than men and tend to see more than one solution to a problem. This leads to decisions that are more likely to be in the best interests of a company ... Companies with at least one female director were 20% less likely to file bankruptcy. And those with higher representations of females on their boards had better financial performance."

    Here's one irony...

    At the same time, the Los Angeles Times has another story about a different study - this one conducted by the Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America - saying that "despite making enormous strides professionally and financially, almost half of American women fear becoming bag ladies, even many of those earning six-figure salaries." This despite the fact that "six in 10 women describe themselves as the primary breadwinners in their households, and 54% manage the family finances."

    The story goes on: "Forty-two percent said financially independent women intimidate men and run the risk of ending up alone, according to the survey. Almost one-third (31%) said those women are hard to relate to and don’t have many friends."
    KC's View:
    Fascinating how two such different studies could be published the same day in the same paper.

    I do think many women make better leaders. And I have to wonder if the reason men feel intimated by them is that they know it ... and that's why many women live in a kind of fear that society will find a way to put them down again.

    Published on: March 28, 2013

    The Consumerist reports that Celiac Supplies, a specialty food store in Brisbane, Australia, has decided to start charging shoppers a $5 fee for looking without buying - a solution, it hopes, to the showrooming problem.

    The store has a sign on the front door that says:

    As of the first of February, this store will be charging people a $5 fee per person for "just looking."

    The $5 fee will be deducted when goods are purchased.

    Why has this come about?

    There has been high volume of people who use this store as a reference and then purchase goods elsewhere. These people are unaware our prices are almost the same as the other stores plus we have products simply not available anywhere else.

    This policy is line with many other clothing, shoe and electronic stores who are also facing the same issue.

    KC's View:
    I think the folks at Celiac Supplies need to get a little more fiber in their diets. Because this is the dumbest idea I've ever heard. The sign may say one thing, but it actually means something else. It means three simple words: "We cannot compete."

    Published on: March 28, 2013

    Netflix announced yesterday that it has made a deal for yet another original series, to follow on the success of this winter's "House of Cards" and the about-to-debut sequel to cult favorite "Arrested Development."

    This one will be called "Sense8," and it is described as "a gripping global tale of minds linked and souls hunted with a ten episode run for its first season." It will be produced by some science fiction icons - he Wachowskis of The Matrix fame, and J. Michael Straczynski, creator of "Babylon 5."

    Netflix hit a public relations and viewer home run with "House of Cards," which was sort of like 'The West Wing" meets "The Sopranos," and which made all 13 episodes of its first season available at the same time, allowing viewers to dictate how and when they would watch, rather than putting the power in the hands of a network.
    KC's View:
    The best way to build a brand is to offer products and content that nobody else has. It applies to Netflix. And it applies to retailers.

    Published on: March 28, 2013

    The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) announced the finalists for its 14th annual Store Manager Awards, the winners of which will be named on Tuesday, April 30, during FMI's Future Connect leadership conference at the Peabody in Orlando. The finalists are recognized for "leading, mentoring and motivating associates; demonstrating a balance between people skills and operational skills; communicating company goals and store milestones to associates; executing innovative in-store programs and/or special events that improve overall customer service and community; and improving the financial performance of the store."

    One grand prize winner will be chosen from each of the four categories:

    Category A (1-49 stores):
    • Kaitlyn Lester, general manager at Lunds in Bloominton, Minnesota
    • Maggie McLaughlin, store manager at Roche Bros. in Wellesley, Massachusetts
    • Mondella Stacey, store manager at Colemans Food Centre in Stephenville, NL, Canada

    Category B (50-199 stores):
    • Joey Aiken, store director at Brookshire Grocery Company in Greenville, Texas
    • Arlie Watson, Jr., store manager at Food City in Gatlinburg, Tennessee
    • Fernando Noriega, general manager at United Supermarkets LLC,  in Amarillo, Texas

    Category C (200 or more stores):
    • Lucy Wienshienk, store manager at Fry’s Food Stores, a division of the Kroger Co., in Phoenix, Arizona
    • Kevin Sherlock, store director at Iowa City Hy-Vee in Iowa City, Iowa
    • Greg Giles, store manager at BI-LO in Maudlin, South Carolina

    Category D (International retailers – companies operating outside North America):
    • Jun Oshima, store manager of Yaoko in Saitama, Japan
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 28, 2013

    ...with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary...

    • The Wall Street Journal reports that "a handful of large companies, including PepsiCo and Mondelez International, are sending small groups of employees to work stints at technology and media startups, learning how smaller companies get things done with fewer resources, often at a quicker pace."

    According to the story, "The idea of the immersive program was to go beyond a typical meet-and-greet with entrepreneurs. 'We want to really understand, to feel that entrepreneurial spirit that drives every single person working at the startup,' says Ed Kaczmarek, director of innovation and emerging technology at Mondelez. 'There's no way that is ever going to come across in a two-hour meeting or over the telephone'."

    Smart, as long as it isn't just cosmetic and illusory. There has to be a real cultural commitment to a startup mentality.

    Drug Store News reports that Safeway made a deal "to install SoloHealth Station kiosks - which screen vision, blood pressure, weight, and body mass index, as well as providing an overall health assessment, free of charge - in almost 700 stores as part of a multiyear agreement.

    • The New York Times reports that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) hopes to announce by the end of the year that the rules governing the use of electronic reading devices during airplanes' takeoffs and landings will be relaxed.

    According to the story, "the agency was under tremendous pressure to let people use reading devices on planes, or to provide solid scientific evidence why they cannot."

    The Times writes: "The issue is only increasing in importance as more Americans board flights with wearable computers. People are flying with electronics like the Nike FuelBand, Jawbone Up and FitBit, all of which track your daily activity. But before long, there will be passengers with Google glasses and an Apple iWatch. Can you imagine pilots mandating that people shut down their glasses before takeoff?"

    Certainly a better idea than allowing small knives onto planes, which got announced a few weeks ago.

    Wine Spectator reports that champagne may actually make you smarter, that "according to research from a team at the Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy department of the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, organic acids in the French sparkling wine actually increase brainpower."

    The story says that researchers "served Champagne (equivalent to a glass per day for people) to lab rats for six weeks and found the rodents showed an improvement in spatial working memory, thanks to improved cell-cycle regulation in the cortex and hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls learning and memory."

    I wonder if good champagne makes you smarter than lousy champagne? Just askin'...
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 28, 2013

    Eddie Basha, chairman/CEO of the Bashas' supermarket chain in Arizona, has passed way. He was 75. No cause of death has been given, though he was said to be in failing health.

    According to the Associated Press obituary, "Basha's grandfather and father opened the first of what would become the family-owned supermarket chain in 1932. He took over the business at age 31 when his dad died in 1968.

    "Bashas' has grown to more than 130 stores around Arizona and also owns the A.J.'s Fine Foods and Food City stores."
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 28, 2013

    Regarding this week's Supervalu layoffs, one MNB user wrote:

    While I feel the pain of the associates whose positions are being eliminated at Supervalu, at least they are being treated somewhat compassionately.  When Supervalu laid off associates in the banners that were being sold to Cerberus, they were notified by telephone.  They were told to expect a call within a certain amount of time … if they didn’t get a call, their jobs were safe.  They were also told to print out their own severance packages, that it was no longer necessary to report to the Store Support Center, and that they could mail their laptops back to Supervalu.

    Sort of leaves you with a not so warm and fuzzy feeling.

    In commenting about the layoffs yesterday, I noted that someone I know said that you can tell a lot about a company by how it conducts itself during such a time.

    Which led another reader to write:

    The above statement is very true. I would be reluctant to go back to my former company because of the way I was told about my departure and the manner in which it was handled (not that they are asking). After 23 years of service, I was left feeling unappreciated and undervalued. As much as I respect many of the people still with the company and I left on as good terms as you can when you have been laid off, it did leave a bad taste in my mouth. I would work again for one of my former supervisors (he was not the one who laid me off), but not while he is with this company. Good Luck to all the departing Supervalu employees, it can be a positive thing, leading to new opportunities. That is my experience, use the transition to figure out what you want to do and move forward with your head high.

    I would add to that the fact that I think F. Scott Fitzgerald was wrong, and that there are second acts in American lives. My career is testament to that. I've been laid off four times in my life ... and each time, what followed was better. Because I was determined that it would be.

    From another reader:

    It’s very difficult seeing so many employees losing their jobs and those of us who have survived to date wish our fellow employees the best in their search for new opportunities. I know from experience that the road won’t be easy, but that many will land in places that will give them a renewed energy and much success.

    I also want to commend Sam Duncan in removing the unnecessary layers of upper management compensation that have drained Supervalu during a time when many lower level employees were let go and not given raises. From my minimal perspective to date, it seems we will be a more lean company with the ability to do what’s needed to survive and prosper. Supervalu has seemingly unnecessarily spent millions of dollars on outside consultants over the years whose cost-reduction recommendations never looked to reduce the many tiers of upper management and now we’ve accomplished that.
    We know we have a tough road ahead of us, but when we see a CEO who is willing to do what Sam Duncan has begun to do, there is light at the end of the tunnel and it’s a comfort knowing the company‘s long-term success is his focus.

    Several people asked the other day if all Supervalu's problems can be laid at the feet of former CEO Jeff Noddle, which led one reader to offer:

    I am a retired Supervalu associate with 32 years of service.  The majority of my career was spent with a company that was driven by sales, generated by the most important and valued of resources, the employees. The Supervalu meltdown cannot be laid entirely at the feet of the Noddle regime.  Jeff was a visionary, who was looking out for the long term health of Supervalu and it's associates with the 2006 acquisition of Albertson's.   He recognized the growing threat from Walmart, Costco, Target and Sam's Club and believed as we all did, that the additional buying power of a national organization would allow Supervalu to remain price competitive in the new world.  The coordination and structure of the deal with CVS and Cerberus was near genius.   Enter Albertson's "Talent Acquisition Team", this was the beginning of the end. The vision was lost.  Albertson's executives and their cronies, including Craig Herkert, manned the key positions that determined the direction of the enterprise.  They hired a cadre of excellent people, very few of whom were from Supervalu, most from "the outside".  This group , due to poor, shortsighted direction, changed the culture from a sales driven enterprise, in which the vendor community partnered to generate sales and reasonable cost of goods, to one that was selling promotional opportunities to vendors that sold little product.  ALBERTVALUE was born!  Retails were raised to generate profit, and the demise was very predictable, advice fell on deaf ears.  How did that work for Albertson's before the acquisition......?

    Had a story the other day about the possibility of flexible, name-your-own-price-for-tickets pricing at movie theaters, which led one MNB user to write:

    We have 2 movie complexes in our town, one is quite new w/stadium seating; the other is the original one---still nice but older.  All new movies go to the new one at retail prices.  Once a movie has run its initial opening (time depends on how long it takes for the crowds to dwindle), it is moved to the other theater complex where all tickets are $3.00 for all ages, all times.  In addition to making sense in keeping the new one full, it's really a nice treat for families struggling to take their kids to anything w/o getting a loan from the bank.  Yes, they have to wait until the rush is over, but it's then, say, $15 for a family of 5 to see the same movie, only later.

    Finally, yesterday MNB took note of how Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, got much applause at a shareholders meeting when he was criticized by one stockholder for supporting legalized same-sex marriage on the grounds that it hurt sales and profits by alienating some customers. Schultz replied: "If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much."

    In yesterday's piece, I took no position on the gay marriage debate. I've done it before, but it was irrelevant to my point yesterday ... which was that when companies and business leaders take cultural and political positions, they have to be prepared for consequences ... though sometimes, taking those positions can reinforce loyalty among the core customer base, which is probably what happened at Starbucks.

    However, Steve Kneepkens - an MNB reader who grew so annoyed at my coverage and commentary about how this issue plays out in the workplace that he cancelled his subscription - happened to read MNB yesterday, and decided to once again take issue with me:

    Although I stopped reading Morning News Beat,  I received a number of emails stating that I should continue our dialogue. Evidently somebody thought having a counter argument to the cultural issues that are presented on your website was a good idea.

    Sure enough, the day I come back there is still a discussion regarding marriage. First let's be clear – there is no hyphenated marriage. There is marriage. Period. Marriage is not built solely for the purpose of adult pleasure. Marriage is a sacred union bound together with the intent of creating families. This is where you interject and tell us not everyone can or wants children. That is the exception. Families are the pillar and rock in which society is formed.

    Schultz’s support of same-sex marriage is very much about dollars and cents — or at least about brand value and employee retention, which both affect the bottom line. For many big companies, the fear of losing out on talented employees or loyal customers who support gay rights is even greater than the fear of losing out on the dwindling number of those who don’t.

    Fantastic – this is really the heart of the issue. Marriage being redefined is all economics – and has zero to do with the family or relationships. The new proposed definition is about inheritance, insurance and taxes. This is about “getting what is mine” and no one will stop me.

    Here is another way to look at redefining words.

    What I would like to do is receive benefits for being “native American”. I think we should redefine what native American means. I was born in this country and so were my parents. Why should I not be considered native to this land we call America? Well, we have standards for the definition (although Elizabeth Warren took that to the extreme). By definition that is what a definition is – a standard!! So I would like to receive a check for being Native the USA. Ridiculous right?
    Be careful because they will come for you someday – and there will be no one left standing.
    Ahhh – nothing like napalm in the morning.

    Where do I start?

    Well, first of all, I'm thrilled that you are getting emails urging you to continue reading MNB and respond to my coverage and commentary. This is the nature of community, and precisely what I hope MNB engenders.

    I never worry when people unsubscribe. There are plenty of places to get news and commentary out there, and MNB is designed not to be plain vanilla. Most other sites in this B2B space eschew a strong and provocative editorial voice because it makes them nervous. Here, I like to think that we thrive on it ... and when I say "we," I mean the 25,000+ subscribers, a list that grows by 50-100 names each and every week. If people want to read something else because they don't like MNB, that's okay. No worries. Some people prefer McDonald's to Cajun food. But I'm not cooking for them.

    As for your criticisms ... you certainly are entitled to them. But they are your opinion. I have my opinion (which, I repeat, I didn't even state yesterday, because that wasn't the point.)

    It is nice that you are willing to tell me what I would interject before I even do it. Saves me the trouble.

    I would never dispute that Starbucks' position on this issue is about dollars and cents, but I don't think it is all about dollars and cents, nor is it rooted in fear. I think Schultz's position is rooted in feelings of fairness and tolerance and compassion and an understanding that the diverse culture of 2013 is the culture that is his customer base. This is a good thing.

    While I respect your position, I do think that in the end, this point of view will be on the wrong side of history. In many ways, the war is over. I think most people under 25 cannot even understand why we're having this discussion. There still will be skirmishes and battles, but it seems to me that the end is in sight and it is clear. Just ask Senator Rob Portman.

    As for me, let me be clear about my position. I actually think that it is none of my business if gay people marry. I have no right to object to or approve of such a legal arrangement. It has nothing to do with me ... it has to do with whether they want to make that commitment to each other.

    But again...that's not what yesterday's piece was about. My piece was about the consequences for taking positions. Sometimes it is worth it. Sometimes it is not. For example, in your business, you may find that there are consequences for being perceived as anti-equal rights for a specific group of people. Or not. Or maybe the consequences are positive. My point is that these things need to be thought about. Carefully.

    I do think, to be perfectly honest, that your Native American metaphor is a little silly, and a reach. You're desperate for things not to go the way they seem to be going, so you cling to a desperate metaphor. But that's okay. I feel your pain. But your desperation is made clear when you say that "they" will be coming for me. Nothing like paranoia and fear to cloud one's thinking.

    I also think that, unconsciously, you hit on something important ... because I would argue that, in fact, much of marriage is about economics. A good marriage is about Return on Investment. In a month and a couple of days, I will celebrate my 30th wedding anniversary, and we have only succeeded because we both invested ... and the dividends have been wonderful.

    One final comment. You're not using napalm. With all due respect, you're shooting blanks.

    BTW...because yesterday's commentary was about business, not my position on gay marriage, it only generated two emails. One from Steve Kneepkens, the "former" MNB reader. And this one, from a current subscriber:

    What continues to amaze me, is our collective lack of considering history as a learning tool for today.

    And I feel the same is happening with the arguments against Gay Rights.  

    History has shown us that the oppressed will always and I means ALWAYS fight for their right to be free or to be equal.  We have seen this fight with the Israelites from the Egyptians, with the Emancipation Proclamation, Suffrage, Civil Rights, the Women's Movement and now Gay Rights.   Equal is equal - regardless of anyone's personal interpretation.

    So, for those of us who feel they own the moral compass, or are endowed with more rights than others - remember, we are all born the same way and we all die the same way.  And, in between, you can bet that the struggles will continue until a sense of equality and personal freedom is felt by all.

    KC's View:

    Published on: March 28, 2013

    First of all, let's start with something important ... and that is my saying "thanks" to the folks at Western Michigan University, who hosted the school's 48th annual food marketing conference this week. Tom Furphy and I had the opportunity to do a version of our "Innovation Conversation" as a keynote, and it was a great time ... we just wish we'd been able to get to all of the dozens of questions we got from the audience.

    It may still be cold out, but the Major League Baseball season is about to begin.

    Thank goodness.

    Baseball, as the late, great Robert B. Parker used to say, "is the most important thing that doesn;t matter."

    Though I have to tell you ... I cannot understand the utter idiocy of the New York Mets and the New York Yankees both opening their seasons at home on Monday at almost exactly the same time. it makes absolutely no sense at all.

    Oh, well. This weekend, at least, I can believe that the Mets will have a surprisingly good season. This weekend, at least - to once again paraphrase RBP, the world is filled with possibility.

    My wine recommendation this week - the 2010 Brancaia Tre, a lovely and juicy red wine from Tuscany that is a blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Yummy!

    Last weekend we were sort of in the mood for a mindless movie with lots of explosions - so we went to see Olympus Has Fallen - which certainly fit the bill. Olympus Has Fallen can best be described as Die Hard meets Air Force One, with some similarities to - but none of the pleasures of - In The Line Of Fire.

    That said, it was diverting for a couple of hours. Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, and Morgan Freeman in the three leading roles are as good as you'd expect them to be, and there are plenty of explosions and not a lot of believability. But it does what it is supposed to do ... including make me wonder how the next movie about the White House being attacked, White House Down, due in June, will be.


    Y'know what's really amazing to me? The extend to which really good television series can be so much better than the vast majority of what is shown in movie theaters. I watch series like "Justified" and "The Following" and am consistently impressed by the writing, their ability to surprise, the ever-heightened suspense, and the fact that they seem to be about something ... and I wonder what happened to the movies. Sure, there are exceptions ... movies like Zero Dark Thirty can thrill us and make us think at the same time. But more and more, they seem to be exceptions.

    That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday. (Which, I'm warning you right now, is April 1.)

    KC's View: