So today has been fairly hectic for a wide variety of reasons, not the least of which being that while I personally find chatting with economists delightful (no, really), these work-related interviews do have a habit of eating into the time I spend writing on daily deadline or, more importantly, goofing off on the Internet.
Therefore, I will leave you with just a few bits of pre-holiday posting, none of which are related to one another. All I need are ellipsis and I'll be the next Herb Caen.
Item the first: I never learned to type properly. Oh, it's not like I clench a pencil in my teeth and bang away at the keys with it while my hands are otherwise occupied. It's just that, given a choice between taking "personal typing" and "physics" in high school, I elected for the latter. I haven't had to calculate the average speed of an egg being dropped from a 25-foot football bleacher since my final in 11th grade*. I have had to type nearly every day since. This seems like a microencapsulation of everything that is bizarrely wrong with college prep education.
Anyway -- can't type. Consequently, when I am busy looking at a screen full of stock tickers while trying to type this passage:
the drug-eluting stent will stay on the market while [Brand X] resolves a patent dispute with [Brand Y]
it comes out like this:
the rugs eluting stend will stay on the marjet while [Brand Xse] resolibesf a patents issue with [Brand Yer]
It's too bad there's nothing remotely Freudian about these slip-ups.
Item the Second: Know what I love about being a chick? Being told how unfair it is to be me. Bankrate's Penelope Trunk wrote the May 17, 04, "Women, the Playing Field Isn't Level" and Slate ran "Sandra's Days." On an intellectual level, I can appreciate people who are willing to come out and say, "You know what? You'll have hard choices to make and tough situations to get through." But on another level -- dude, I already know that. I'm not interested in being reminded. I'm interesting in fixing the problems.
(This temper tantrum brought to you courtesy of Friday. I'll be a good little feminist again on Tuesday, I promise.)
Item the Third: Banana Republic is dangerously close to jumping the shark, if such a thing is possible in the world of grown-up people's clothing. It's sponsoring a reality TV show where we'll get to see someone win a design contract, a move that's well timed with the chain's decision to move to high fashion from office basics ("Yes, We Have a New Banana," BusinessWeek, May 31, 04).
This seems ... well, it's a little hinky, IMO, since that's a market that's getting more definition on the retail floor (see this earlier Rage Diaries entry), leading to more shopper education, and as a result, more shopper demand. Why let the other firms horn in on a lock? ("Career Wear, Revisited," WSJ, April 2, 04; "Designer Clothes at Mall Prices?" Dallas Morning News, May 3, 03)
Actually, I'm eying the whole Gap empire with a wary eye. The turnaround's going very well ("Designing a Brighter Future for The Gap," NYT, May 2, 04), even in the wake of reports about their overseas sweatshops ("Gap Offers Unusual Look at Factory Conditions," the WSJ, May 12, 04) but they just brought in Domenico De Sole ("Gap Adds Board Member," Bloomberg News, May 26, 04) and now I live in fear of Tom Ford deciding it'd be fun to dabble in off-the-rack just like Isaac. Also, the Sarah Jessica Parker thing doesn't do much for me. ("Ad Nabs A 'Sex'y Girl and a Gucci Guy. Is the Fashion Back?" WSJ, May 27, 04)
The Gap's celebrity ad campaigns have, in my opinion, missed more than they've hit since that one in the late 80s/early 90s where people sat around in black-and-white photos and generally grinned the oblivious smiles of people who had no idea In Style was about to hit the landscape. There was that weird, cultlike "Everyone in [Whatever]" campaign, and the assorted Christmas campaigns with people singing Supertramp songs, and then last fall's campaign with Madonna, and the "Katie Holmes wearing Fair Isle in a gutter!" shots et al. And sales for the clothing lines promoted were not all that robust ("Gap's Recovery Faces Hurdles," CNN, Oct 4, 03; "Out of Fashion," Kiplinger, Oct 13, 03; it's worth noting that once the holiday line rolled out, November and December sales swung up).
Correlation doesn't equal causation, but I wouldn't discount the possibility that maybe, a noncompelling celebrity campaign gives people who dislike the corporate shills an excuse to stay away for a season.
Also, in terms of celebrities who I believe wear Gap even when not paid to, Sarah Jessica Parker doesn't even crack the top 100. Like, I'd believe that Prince is more likely to run around in Gap cargos and high heels.
Item the Fourth: So I finally saw Matrix Revolting or whatever the deuce the third installment's called, and spent the entire sitting on the couch wishing I had actually retained my high school physics lessons so I might calculate the force of its massive suckage.
It's worth noting that The Animatrix is a totally enjoyable little number, although it, combined with the family of software programs in the beginning of Matrix Reprehensible, has now put me in the odd position of actually sympathizing more with the machines.
Anyway, I can't decide what's more mind-boggling: the ending of the Matrix Repellent or the way the Wachowski sibs drove that franchise off a cliff at a speed I probably could have calculated for a brief, shining moment in March 1989.
Item the Fifth: This says volumes about what a big baby I am, but National Geographic has the fiendish power to sink me into a Plathian abyss of depression with a single article. The winner this time? May 6's "Oceans Awash with Microscopic Plastic." Other news that disabuses me of the fantasy that the oceans are filled with psychic porpoises rollicking under rainbows at sunset: "Orcas Feast on Harvest of Gray Whale Calves." (SF Chron, May 26, 04)
Item the Sixth: I'm reaching here, but I really don't feel right leaving y'all for the weekend on a whale massacree note. So why not end with Nazis? Christianity Today's reviews Anne Applebaum's Gulag, Frederic Spotts' Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics, Robert N. Procter's The Nazi War on Cancer and Geoffrey Cock's Psycology in the Third Reich in the May/June 04 article "The Nazi Seduction." It's comprehensive piece that will a) impress people like me who wonder if they'll ever summon the brain power to write like that, and b) provide everyone with framework for smacking around the next twonk who creates a Godwin's Law situation.
I found this quote particularly chewy:
A kind of conceit often overtakes the cultivated, that immersion in things of beauty and great classical creations of art, architecture, and music, must, ineluctably, refine the soul and forestall brutalities and cruelties.
especially in light of the books I chewed on in my run on consumer culture, i.e. The Substance of Style, Cute, Quaint, Hungry and Romantic and Living It Up: America's Love Affair with Luxury. One of these days, I'll have to actually get around to writing book reviews again.
Item the Seventh: Then again, Nazis aren't exactly the feel-good ending of the afternoon. So in the fine tradition of my favorite rockstar librarian (speaking of that entry, check out Girl Detective, who commented muchly; she's part of a frighteningly talented midwest cabal that appears to have coalesced around M. Giant) ... ANYWAY, there's a spiffy link "Comic Books for Young Adults," which I found very cool and interesting. I'd like some pointers to how librarians are tackling the question of comics collections. Any takers?
Item the Eighth: I forget what eight is for. Have a good weekend.
* Untrue: I later had to take physics in college, a situation made better (or worse, if you were actually interested in learning something) by the two pals I took it with, and our informal agreement to make every Friday 4 p.m. class Happy Hour. We added rules (drink every time the number 9.8 appears! Chug when the equation stretches across two blackboards!), which made us look like we were paying rapt attention. Clearly, we were smarter drinkers than we were physicists. And I actually learned more about physics in industrial biochem and analytic chem than I did in my actual physics classes. Again, another example encapsulating everything wrongheaded about education.