Condé Nast Can’t Catch A Break

You almost have to feel sorry for Condé Nast. The publisher of popular high end magazines has been in the middle of diversity controversies since last spring. Then one of their titles does a story on Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and it’s not really a success. This week another title featured VP-elect Kamala Harris and it went even worse.

To be fair, the AOC debacle wasn’t really Condé Nast’s fault. The October issue of their Vanity Fair magazine ran her photo on the cover. She looked good and was dressed to the nines. The problem was she should have been dressed to the fives or sixes instead – a better fit to AOC’s persona as a gritty street-fighting politician.

Agreeing to be on the cover of a high end magazine looking like a limo liberal a few weeks before the election wasn’t a really smart move on AOC’s part. The internet was not happy. She took the primary hits but Condé Nast suffered collateral damage.

You would have thought the publisher would avoid politicians at that point. But the opportunity to put Harris on the February cover of their Vogue title was apparently too big of a scoop to pass up.

Harris approved the clothes and photos, but of course, it still went south. Vogue chose the ‘wrong’ photo for the cover. Harris was dressed to the sixes and should have been dressed to the nines. And her complexion looked bleached. “And, and, and,” bleated the internet.

Here’s what Condé Nast should do. Turn their focus to the front line covid workers. The nurses and doctors working insane shifts to cope with the holiday surges. They show up in medical scrubs, work their tails off, and collapse home in PJs or sweats. They don’t get a chance to dress normal, never mind dress up.

Condé Nast can fix this. It can send teams out to medical centers all over the country. Offer the covid heros an opportunity to take a break from their work and look and feel beautiful again. Dress them. Photograph them. Put them on their magazine covers for a month but keep the program going at least until covid is over.

Leave the clothes, make-up, etc. with the health workers. Emily Blunt won’t mind.

Succulents Are The New Black

Have you noticed how succulents are popping up everywhere? No longer content to be a curiosity in the garden store, succulents have gone mainstream and more.

For a few years now it seems like every craft fair has hosted a few vendors selling tiny pots with a little sprig of a generic succulent stuck in it. “Oh yes, that will be $15 please.”

Now it is getting even worse. Designers are weaving succulent walls into cafes, beer gardens and anywhere else they can get away with it. Succulent pots adorn office reception areas. They have replaced silk flowers in toilets. There is no stopping them!

Someday the fad will run its course and we will be hit by the next big thing. Air plants anyone?


Et Tu, Star Wars?

Somewhere, somehow, America’s unions lost their cachet. Even into the 1970s, Hollywood made heroic union movies like Joe Hill and Norma Rae that succeeded at the box office.

How the tables have turned. Star Wars, The Last Jedi, is an example. In one of the biggest films of the year, the heros put in a call for help to their friend Maz Kanata. It is a quick scene and when Maz, the proprietor of a popular bar appears, we find her in the thick of battle, dodging bullets and so on.

“Are you OK, Maz?”  “Yes, it’s just a little union dispute.”

Most of the people that worked on the movie were union members yet they had no problems slipping in a joke dissing unions. It is a testimony to how poorly unions are regarded that the union-disparaging joke enters the canon of one of the most popular film series ever.

The union’s PR situation will continue to deteriorate until they get some leadership that understands how the public forms its perceptions in the age of social media (and Trump). Maybe they can interest Steve Bannon in the job – he may be unemployed soon.

Financial Security in Sports

The other day I read a quote from a professional athlete that had just signed a contract. That previous sentence is actually contains a tautology, because if he was not playing professionally in one of the major sports leagues, there is no way I would have seen an article on him in the news. But no matter.

Anyway, he said something to the effect that he was glad to have signed the contract as doing so gave him financial security. Now this particular individual is not a rookie – he’s a veteran and making millions. Financial security? Really?

The minimum salary for a player in the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League is about $500,000. Half a million dollars.

A professional athlete that works for two years would make at least a million dollars, less say 5-10% for his agent. That puts them in the 1%. It would take over 18 years for the average Joe to make that kind of money.

I am sure a lot of professional athletes don’t even make it to play for two years at the rookies’ salary, and many that do make it don’t manage their money well. But it is clear that there is a huge gap between their definition of financial security and the definition most of the rest of us go by.


Indigo Matters


The rainbow flag is meant to be inclusive, right?

All of the colors are represented.


As anyone that has taken a science class knows, the mnemonic for the colors of the rainbow is Roy G Biv.
Biv = Blue       Indigo      Violet

But none of the rainbow flags I have ever seen show indigo. They only show six colors.

Which brings up the question: Who does indigo represent and why are they excluded?

Star Wars Seven [Four]

I have seen Star Wars – The Force Awakens three times now (don’t ask) and every time I see it I am less impressed with the filmmakers. Yes, Lucas disappointed the fanchise with episodes one though three. But I just cannot seem to get over how much Star Wars Seven was such a blatant rip off of episode four.

The first time I saw it, I left the theater feeling pretty good. I am sure the filmmakers figured that pushing all the ‘familiar’ buttons would elicit this reaction: bar scene, Kessel Run, etc. But then, the more I thought about it, the more I started resenting being manipulated. Lone fighter has to attack down a narrow alley to find the single point of vulnerability in the new ‘Death Star’? Really? I almost cringed watching that scene.

The second and third times I saw it, I left the theater feeling less good and more manipulated. It just felt like a weak, calculated effort.I understand that they needed to do this for business reasons: re-engage the fanchise (not that it ever disengaged) and set up a plot that would run over three movies, not one.

Would Lucas have gotten away with it if he had done this film? I suspect not. He would have been ripped for just rehashing his first success and really going nowhere with the story. Let’s hope things improve in Episode Five Eight.