business news in context, analysis with attitude

With the death last November of writer William Goldman - he was best known for both the novel and film of “The Princess Bride,” as well as the screenplays for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All The President’s Men, Marathon Man, The Stepford Wives, The Great Waldo Pepper, The Hot Rock, Harper, A Bridge Too Far, and Misery, among others - came the realization that there was one of his nonfiction books that I’d never read, but always meant to - “Hype & Glory,” which chronicled a single year in which he was a judge both at the Cannes Film Festival and the Miss America Pageant.

Not that it matters, but he may be the only person ever to do that … and certainly the only person to do it in the same 12-month period.

Published in 1990, “Hype & Glory” suffers a bit from being dated, especially the latter chapters about the beauty pageant. But the writing - funny, pointed and highly observational - transcends that small problem, and actually allows the book to provide a kind of looking glass-experience. Business is business, and both Cannes and Miss America were both businesses trying to retain relevance in a changing world; Goldman is never so caught up in either experience that he loses perspective, and in fact, his observations are pointed and right on.

At the same time, Goldman was going through some personal turmoil - he was in his late fifties, his 30-year marriage was unraveling, and he also was dealing with some physical indignities that made the two judging experiences a kind of pleasurable escape.

Goldman’s sardonic wit makes it all work. There is a wonderful moment when he goes out for a walk and decides to enjoy a vanilla ice cream cone on a beautiful day. The only downside is that the ice cream seems to be melting onto his hand at a rapid pace; then, he realizes that the white stuff all over his sleeve and hand is not vanilla ice cream, and that a seagull has defecated on him. It seems a fitting metaphor for both experiences.

Fun book, and I was thrilled when my oldest son, David, tracked down a used copy and gave it to me for Christmas.

Have you seen the trailer for the new TV version of “The Twilight Zone” being produced and hosted by Jordan Peele on CBS All Access? If not, and like me, you are a “Twilight Zone” fan, then you should, here.

It looks like lots of creepy fun … I’m totally on board. (To steal a line from the 1983 movie version - which wasn’t that good, save for the opening and closing bracketing scenes and the final segment, “Want to see something really scary?”

A reminder … I’m hosting a series of sessions next week at the National Grocers Association (NGA) Show in San Diego - one on in-store technology, one on delivery, and one on using voice technology to connect with shoppers. And, I’ll also be on the show floor on Monday afternoon, where we’ll be taping a new Retail Tomorrow podcast, looking at “Technology, Innovation & the Independent Retailer,” and featuring a great power panel. I hope you’ll stop by to say hello.

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

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