The Wisdom of Plugging into #Unplug

There was a time when the notion of “unplugging” meant you were either euthanizing someone or going acoustic, or, in the case of Korn, both. These days, unplugging most often refers to turning off one’s various devices, signing off of social networks and generally diverting one’s stream of consciousness from one’s Twitter stream. Continue reading “Unplug”

Change is Good (Redux)

The spooky chicks I dated in the ’90s used to tell me that the “Death” card in their Tarot decks wasn’t as ominous as it might’ve appeared. These images, no matter how much they looked like a page torn from William Blake’s dream journal, were meant to indicate “change.”
All these years on, I’m not sure I believe them. Consider how “change” is used in our culture: “Climate change,” for example, is one of those handy euphemisms for “the end of the world as we know it.” Or, “the earth has bipolar disorder,” but in a manner that doesn’t stigmatize when in polite company. But clearly, the earth is manic – in the course of a month in Sonoma County, a lightning storm (mere days after the summer solstice, mind you) started a forest fire, followed by a spate of skin-melting 100-degree days that turned the interior of my car into a pizza oven. And now, it’s overcast on July 19, the very day I’m turning 41. Continue reading “Change is Good (Redux)”

Lack of Sleep: Wake Me When It’s Over

My son turned 4 last week, which means I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in as many years. Most people sleep away a third of their lives, so, given the average human lifespan, that’s 26 years spent unconscious. Since I’ve been sleeping less, theoretically I’m getting more out of life since I’m awake for a greater percentage of it. Let me assure you this is not the case. I now enjoy less of more. It’s like they say about rich people – having more doesn’t make you happier. But they can afford to outsource their sleeping so I suspect they’re at least better rested. Continue reading “Lack of Sleep: Wake Me When It’s Over”

Movie Theater Food

Confessions from the Concession Stand

As far as pairings go, the proverbial “dinner and a movie” is a classic that rivals Sonoma’s precious couplings of “wine and cheese” as a sensual experience to be enjoyed while clothed. In our hurly burly world of air-tight schedules, it’s a wonder that “dinner at the movies” hasn’t become more trendy.

Of course, there are dangers when dining in the dark. On more than one occasion, I’ve exited the multiplex with lapels that looked as if they’ve been dipped in yellow poster paint, thanks to a poorly wielded pretzel, strafed with mustard. Another hazard is perhaps the food itself. Much of what’s available at the concession stand isn’t represented on ye olde food pyramid, unless you’re including the pyramid’s septic system. More to the point, candy, soft drinks and, naturally, popcorn, aren’t dense in nutrients so much as a preview of coming attractions such as Type 2 diabetes.

The irony is, this is where movie theaters make their money. In The Hollywood Economist, reporter Edward Jay Epstein recounts meeting a theater chain owner whose 450-screen chain paid out so much to distributors and operating costs that it would be in the red were it not for the snack foods. His profits came entirely from sales of snack foods, which have a profit margin north of 80 percent.

“Every element in the lobby is designed to focus the attention of the customer on its menu boards,” the man shared with Epstein.

Further up the food chain, studio accounting wizards can likewise wave their wands over a spreadsheet and turn to black to red. Despite box office receipts high enough to run a small nation, no one seems to make money at the movies. Unless they’re hawking junk food. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that theater “licorice” comes in both red and black – it’s a symbolic talisman to appease the accounting gods.

Hollywood is really in the popcorn business. Don’t tell the stars that, they’re carbo-phobic. Continue reading “Movie Theater Food”

Do you like piña coladas?

Whenever publicists inform me that it’s National (Insert the Name of a Drink Here) Day, I get suspicious. The first question that comes to mind is “what booze do they want me to plug?” followed by “and where the hell are the samples?” (Note to Editors: I hope you enjoyed that Bols yogurt liqueur they sent me.)
So, when it’s suddenly, say, National Margarita Day, I just know there’s a breathless publicist pushing a new “agave spirit.”

The bullet points are always the same: Not only is it organic and sustainably-grown but it’s produced in small batches using the same traditional methods the company poster boy’s alleged ancestor used.

Then they take this “everything old is new again” pitch, dip it in some “fair trade” crap and claim it’s the most important part of their “brand story.”

It’s tequila. The only story worth telling is the one about what you did while you were blacked out. Continue reading “Do you like piña coladas?”