Black Friday via Google Images
Black Friday in the US is not, as one would expect, a bleak, sad, dark day. Oddly enough, this day is about shopping.
Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving and the term is said to have come from accounting and it means that retailers would make enough money on this day to put them “in the black” as opposed to “in the red” – which is bad. Being in the red means you’re losing money.
So black = good. Got it?
Now to fully understand the importance of Black Friday you need to understand the importance of shopping. Shopping is a national pastime in the US. In other countries people generally shop if they need something. It is a mundane thing: you go out when you run out of milk or bread or shoes (it can happen) or if your computer broke or if you accidentally dropped your cell phone in the toilet. That, I’ve learned from experience, happens more often than one would think.
In the US, however, shopping is the ends, not the means for some. You have nothing to do on a Saturday? You go to the mall and shop. A friend is in town? You go shopping. Macy’s has a sale? You’re sooo there, even if you don’t necessarily need anything from Macy’s.
The power of the sale is humbling. People look for “the sales” in the Sunday newspaper and they go to the store because “there’s a sale” not because “I really need new socks”.
Which brings us to Black Friday. Black Friday is the day when everything is on sale. Everyone has a deal and the deals are supposed to be so amazing that people line up the day before just to make sure that they don’t miss it.
Speaking of which, lines in the US are not your average lines: they are generally organized, people don’t “cut” the line (or else that little old lady will give you apiece of her mind!) and this year I heard they even gave out numbers so that everyone knew their exact place and was admitted in the store based on his or her number. I guess the fact that last year someone got trampled to death in a Wal Mart really made people reevaluate the way they stand in lines, right?
Aaanywhoo, on Black Friday, after – gasp! – Thanksgiving Thursday the stores have been closed all day, people go and shop ’til they drop. Sometimes quite literally.
So what do people shop for? It doesn’t matter. In the words of one lovely woman who was interviewed this morning on WJLA “you look for the deal. We were just grabbing everything that was a good deal”. Ok then.
But you know what? It is more satisfying than you would think. I will be bragging for years to come about my $60 boots that I got on Black Friday. And, damn, I never knew I needed them but they were such a good deal.
Posted: November 30th, 2009
Comments: No Comments
I had pretty low expectations going in to see the Michael Jackson movie. The big, huge movie release was on Wednesday and it was now Sunday and I haven’t read any reviews, haven’t heard any feedback (other than Liz Taylor raving about it on Twitter) and that generally spells bad news.
It was even worse that, when we got to the theater at 6 PM there were no lines and no crowds waiting to get inside. But it may just have been too early…
At 6:30 we headed in and the theater was mostly empty. Slowly though, people started showing up and by 7 there was a good crowd although still not what I would call a full house.
And then the technical difficulties started. After about half an hour of tinkering with the projector, the management of the place decided to move everyone into a different theater because, clearly, the problem could not be solved.
We almost gave up on seeing the movie – most people just asked for a refund and left – but finally sat down in the “8 o’clock theater” and after another what seemed like a half hour of coming attractions, the movie started.
Now this was basically a cut of footage from a series of rehearsals over a period of a few months (from April to June, I believe) and it’s a pretty amazing thing in itself that people would sit for two hours and watch someone’s rehearsals. But Kenny Ortega – who clearly had a very personal and close relationship with Michael – has an uncanny ability to highlight the key moments of this unfinished project and bring to life a very real, humane, kind and likeable Jackson.
The most touching thing to me was the way the movie evokes Michael through the eyes of others. His carefully selected dancers are in awe of him and – in a series of interviews done right after they were selected to be part of the “lead dancers” group – they spill their guts and let their emotions have the best of them while talking about what being on the same stage with Michael means to them. It is very honest and quite touching.
MJ’s stage performance is clearly not the same as it would have been had he been performing in front of hundreds of thousands. Michael is very leisurely even though he is an amazing professional and takes all the little moves very seriously. But his movements are somewhat unfinished: his knees and elbows are soft all the time and he never fully extends his arms and legs like the dancers around him do.
He does seem to be enjoying singing and dancing – even if his performance appears to be internalized. He closes his eyes and sort of moves for himself every once in a while. He is painfully thin and, by the way, can anyone tell me what is the deal with his hands? They seem disproportionally large compared to the rest of him. It was very distracting, especially since I don’t remember ever noticing that before about him.
In any event, it’s amazing to see how MJ works with the musicians, the dancers, the singers: he’s very hands-on and very careful to not offend anyone when asking for more from the musicians or expressing dissatisfaction with something. If he had his “diva” moments, they are not in this movie.
The highlight of the show for me was his performance with this guitar chick (Orianthi something – definitely in need of a name change) who rocked Eddie Van Halen’s solo from “Beat It” and who is as hot as she is talented. I hope she doesn’t get lost and that she gets a good record deal out of this whole thing.
All in all, it’s good, fun, sweet, intense and it makes you wish, really, really wish that this was indeed what Michael Jackson was like. And then it makes you wish he could have lived a little bit more as THIS Michael and not what we saw in the past years of his life.
Posted: November 1st, 2009
Comments: No Comments