Monday, March 27, 2006


Book 10: Call of the Mall

So, super anne and i were hanging out at my favorite library, and this little number jumped out at me. think because it was shaped like a shopping bag. we were in the history and humanities section, sociology division, one of my favorite dives. man, i'm such a geek. anyhoo, i started to read this there and was instantly enamored of paco underhill's witty observations on our consumer society. underhill owns a consulting firm that works with retailers and lots and lots of malls.

I found his premise fascinating: our society is fleeing the cities for the cushy suburbs. without the cities, there are no meeting places, no shopping districts, no places for families to spend the day, no place for teens to do whatever it is they do all the time, play in traffic for all i care. what the city was for older generations is being replaced by the's where we can walk and talk, meet up with friends, do serious or light shopping, find imported goods as well as a smattering of ethnic cuisine (he gives the food court as an example with it's italian, chinese, mexican, cajun, greek and south philadelphian fare, a staple at every mall.) i was eager and ready to read on into this dissection of our cultural psyche and avidly awaited the answers to all my questions, such as why am i unable to resist lancome lip gloss? well, after the first couple of chapters, he goes into what i imagine most of his consulting files detail: how the mall and retailers in general could get more money out of unsuspecting americans by changing this or that. it didn't really give much insight into how we spend money or grand economic trends. rather it was a how-to manual for merchants. still, somewhat interesting.

i did learn a thing or two about retailing schemes, which the normal shopper probably figured out years ago. i however, am a born consumer. within in 3 minutes of seeing a cool commercial for shampoo i hop in my car to buy it, foolishly believing my life will be more interesting with properly conditioned tresses. did you know that supermarkets put milk in the back corner so you have to walk through the whole store to get to it? and you almost always have to walk through the cosmetics aisle. cosmetics, underhill writes, are consistently an impulse buy for women. oh yeah. so you just need milk but come home with stuff for your skin and lips. also, the makeup counters are always across from ladies' shoes, because no matter how much of a rush we're in, we always look at shoes. i believe that one too; might only need q-tips but i always check out target's shoes. so all in all, a good read. i gave it a smiley face. and it has given me an insatiable desire in the past few days to shop. uncontrollably.

I can't even count the number of times that i've ran through shoe departments when i'm late and should be someplace else just to look!

i checked out call of the mall from the library and am looking forward to reading it. hopefully sometime soon.
some thoughts on movies, from a retired film prof from MTU who now writes reviews. i ran across this online and thought you may like to chew on it, too.

- It's not as easy to tell the bad guys from the good guys anymore.

- The truly truly bad guys rarely lose.

- Nudity, frontal and otherwise, is so prevalent, it's no fun anymore.

- Sex sells, so graphic scenes are inserted into nearly all films whether relevant to the plot or not.

- Bathrooms and bedrooms are ubiquitous - almost more than bad-mouth breakfast settings or living room destructions.

- Underwear (male, female or both) must be shown at least once in a movie.

- Technical quality is better than ever; scripts are worse.

- Foreign directors tend to examine human nature with mature, sensitive approaches.

- American directors tend to skim the surface and rely on plot rather than character.

- Most modern Hollywood movies are made by money-greedy cynics with decidedly juvenile tastes and a lack of moral responsibility.

- Most Hollywood writers, directors and actors are under the age of 30 - and the sophomoric nature of their films reflects it.

- Improvisation is found up to 85% in any given movie, with remarkable results among the best filmmakers only. The rest rely on a vocabulary of about 50 words, mostly f-words and slang.

- When a movie can't be good, it is both loud and fast.

- Teens are highly impressionable; they ape the customs, dress and language of the R-rated films they see. It's their focus on life.

- Profanity is ubiquitous; it makes up for miniscule vocabularies and, besides, it makes limited actors sound so very "adult."

- The "f" word has become so pervasive and popular, thanks to movies, that it has lost its power and should be relegated to the same buzz
word bin as "basically" - which no longer means "fundamentally" or anything else at all.

- TV used to ape movies; now it's the reverse. The boob tube "tail" wags the once creative "dog."

- What is called the "new" morality onscreen continues to be the " old" immorality - and it is flaunted with a no-guilt, no-fear attitude. Anything goes.

- "Love" has been replaced by "sex" in relationships; people no longer recognize the difference between the two.

- Thanks to improved technology and make-up techniques, violence continues to increase in graphic grossness.

- Movies of the 40s focused on the good in people; today, the focus is on characters who are emotionally disturbed, evil and anti-social as most interesting.

- Revenge seems to be the leading motivation in many movies, and the revenge is indeed sweet and violent when it occurs.

- The more "humane," the less believable; the more vulgar and cynical, the most definitively expressive.

- Animals are generally treated with more tenderness than humans; man's best friend remains man's best friend.

- Modesty is out; flaunt what you've got. Breasts - genuine or manufactured - are in again. Cleavage, not size, is important.

- Money, greed, power are virtues to strive for. The meek will never inherit the earth.

- Movies dealing in depth with serious issues and real human relations don't sell well. Audiences don't care to think. Keep it simple, superficial and don't muddy the emotional waters.

- Half a century of a lack of grammar teaching has finally resulted in movie scripts that reek with incorrectness and, sadly, few people realize it.

- Not all of the above is true; with careful selection, the serious movie-goer can still find a movie that offers more than fluff. Check your favorite critic for guidance.
what's a tress?
to answer your question, my long luxurious tresses are my hair.
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