business news in context, analysis with attitude

I’ve always waxed rhapsodic about the Pacific Northwest, and recent forays to Portland, Seattle and San Francisco (which isn’t technically in the Pacific Northwest, but I tend to lump it in because it is part of the trio of favorite cities out west) did nothing to change my mind.

The reason? Beyond the great food, the wonderful wines and beers, and a climate that I positively love (“I love the washes memories from the pavement of life,” Alan Felix once said), there also are the cities’ marvelous mass transit systems, which make it possible to get from the airport to downtown incredibly quickly...and cheaply. Efficient, effective, and environmentally friendly...that’s my idea of a strong triple play.

After writing the Eye-Opener above, I tried to think about the brands that would qualify in my life, the ones that I trust almost without question, that are most relevant to my day-to-day existence.

I would have trouble picking ten. The list would certainly include Apple, Amazon, LL Bean ... but I’m not sure any other brand would qualify. The only one that would even remotely make my list from the two political lists would be Google...

Not sure what this says about me. And maybe I’ll think of a couple more as I’m traveling. But that’s about it for now...

Y’know what’s wrong with America?

This week, while speaking at a conference in Florida at a beachside resort, I saw all sorts of families cavorting together in the pool.

And I thought to myself, why the hell aren’t these kids in school?

I don’t think many schools are on vacation during the last week in October. And yet there they were, playing in the water, getting sunburns, when they should have been in a classroom somewhere, getting educated in such a way that they will make themselves and their nation more competitive.

Sure, there are exceptions. Sometimes taking a kid on a business trip can be a great way of augmenting their education. But I firmly believe that a lot of parents pull their kids out of school because they think hitting a resort is simply more important than hitting the books.

I don’t blame the kids. It is the parents, who communicate to them in no uncertain terms that school is not the most important thing in their lives, who are the target for my criticism.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Wine Spectator reports that “women who drink in moderation face a significantly lower risk of sudden cardiac death than nondrinkers, according to an October study in Heart Rhythm.”

Mrs. Content Guy will feel relieved.

After the panel discussion that Michael Sansolo and I moderated recently at the California Grocers Association (CGA) annual convention, Safeway’s Karl Schroeder offered us a bottle of wine from his vineyard.

Now, this wasn’t just any bottle of wine. It was a sultry, luscious 2007 that Cabernet Sauvignon, from his inaugural vintage ... and I have to tell you, this fellow knows how to make wine. Michael and i enjoyed it immensely, and we hope that if there are future vintages, he’ll see his way clear to share a bottle or two.

I’ve always felt that wine can be a wonderful expression of personality - in this case, the label says, the wine is dubbed “Aurelia,” after his wife, because it has “beauty, zest and grace.”

(I love the name .... because “Aurelia” also is the name of a significant character in one of my favorite holiday movies, Love, Actually. And if you’ve seen the movie, you know what I mean.)

Anyway, cheers to Mr. Schroeder...he does good work.

I really liked Hereafter, the new Clint Eastwood-directed movie starring Matt Damon, that examines three different people and their experiences with and connections to the afterlife. Now, I realize that not everyone shares this opinion - I’ve talked to some folks who really hated it.

But I found it to be an uncommon piece of work - a serious, contemplative adult movie with genuine moments of surprise that left me gasping and in awe. The performances are uniformly excellent - I’m especially smitten with the Belgian actress Cecile de France, who plays a French journalist who has a near-death experience; I’ve never seen her in a movie before, and she is both beautiful and extremely talented.

My only complaint is that Eastwood - who is as close to being a renaissance man as there is in Hollywood - has once again composed the score, which seems very similar to many of those that he has composed for other movies. But aside from that, I found Hereafter to be that rarity - a movie that you want to talk about when it is over, and for days afterwards.

I also liked Red, the new action/comedy starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Richard Dreyfuss, Mary Louise Parker and Ernest Borgnine (who at 93 is still working). The movie concerns retired CIA assassins who are targeted by death by the very same CIA - it is their job to find out why, and stop it.

The performances are actually quite good; I was reminded while watching it how good an actor Willis is, and what a shame it is that he doesn’t get serious parts in adult movies. Red might have been better had it been a little bit more serious and less like the graphic novel from which it is derived, but it is what it is, an entertaining diversion.

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

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