retail news in context, analysis with attitude

It’s been a little busy of late, so I haven’t been to a movie in a couple of weeks, and I cannot review I’ve been reading - the new Spenser novel, “Old Black Magic,” by Ace Atkins, until after the official publication date on Tuesday. So I’ll get to that next week.

I am sitting here pondering the fact that Sunday has become such a terrific night for television. In some ways, that’s an antiquated observation - in an age when DVRs and on-demand, in addition to services such as Hulu and iTunes, there’s no such thing as needing to be in front of the television at any given time. We can get what we want when we want it.

Except … one of the things that Mrs. Content Guy has found is that when she goes to work on Mondays, the conversation among her fellow teachers often is about shows that were on the previous night. So she feels like she has to watch, in order to be current. (This is less of an issue for me. I work alone.)

That’s a great metaphor for retailing, I think - the importance of being so compelling that customers will go out of their way to visit a store even if they could get some of the same products in another way or at another time. That’s what great retailers do.

On Sunday night, the two shows that we need to watch so Mrs. Content Guy is up to date are “Homeland” and “Billions,” both on Showtime. “Homeland,” now its its penultimate season, been remarkably prescient in its depiction of American democracy under attack from without and within, with the ability to get the audience rooting for one person or another, only to throw in an event that creates shifting loyalties both onscreen and in the audience. As always, Claire Danes and the great Mandy Patinkin give the narrative weight and investment in their roles as intelligence agents, and they are riveting from week to week. This Sunday is the final episode of the season, and I can’t wait.

“Billions,” just a few episodes into its third season on Showtime, also is remarkable in its portrayal of the battle between Chuck Rhoades, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York (which itself has been much in the news lately), and Bobby Axelrod, a Steven A. Cohen-like hedge fund manager with questionable strategies and tactics. Played, respectively, by Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis with intelligence and ferocity, these characters are in a kind of war to the death … and people I know who work in that world say that it is so accurate as to be uncomfortable to watch. It is terrific drama, sometimes Shakespearian in its ambitions, and we love it.

Meanwhile, over on HBO, there is the comedy-drama “Barry,” in which Bill Hader plays a hitman with ambitions of being an actor and having a normal personal life, and yet having absolutely no capacity for normality or personal relationships. It is wonderful. And, there is the new season of “Westworld,” a meaty riff on the old Michael Crichton movie, about a futuristic amusement park in which robots are there to serve the guests’ basic and debased needs. The new version contemplates sentience and meaning, with an amazing cast and a bifurcated narrative that I find to be simultaneously confusing and riveting - it is must-see TV. And, of course, the evenings end with “Late Night Tonight with John Oliver.”

I get exhausted just thinking about it all.



I’m going to do something different tonight, something I’ve never done before. I’m actually officiating at a wedding of some friends of our kids. (I’m ordained in the Universal Life Church.) I get to perform the service and even give a bit of a sermon about the joys of wedded bliss. (I’m not great at advice, but I do know something about marriage - on May 1, Mrs. Content Guy and I will celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary.)

I’ll let you know it goes. If I have any sort of talent for this, maybe I’ll offer my services to members of the MNB community looking for someone to perform such services.



That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you Monday.

Slàinte!
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