Gone Are The Mega Malls

When was the last time you visited a shopping mall? It appears that the icon of American retail has officially started to feel the pinch of shoppers. The convenience of indoor sprawl mixed with every brand retailer known to the public eye may have winked its last time to the typical consumer.


It was reported that Amazon, Walmart and Home Depot are performing solidly. For all the hype about Nordstrom’s and other retailers such as Victoria’ Secret, it appears an ending is about to come sooner than excepted. Today’s shopper has become lean and fiscally conscious in an economy that nearly a decade ago felt an economic collapse. That feeling still resonates with today’s buyers. In fact, large grocery stores are starting to feel the pinch too. Large chains are beginning to take notice with no frills shopping German grocer Aldi’s and Lidl.


While big box stores appear to have stability now, it is safe to assume that the future of shopping mixed with smartphone apps will become a bit more frugal and competitive. Super sized Walmarts are already feeling a decline in individual sales because of marketing designs. A typical consumer may enjoy the low-cost benefits of a particular retail item but complain heavily about how giant Walmart is to locate it. Instead, Walmart appeals to the add-on purchase. It hopes while you are shopping that you will buy something else. However, consumers are beginning to catch on, and it will only be a matter of time before consumers revolt. The supply and demand curve may need reexamining.


Amazon’s performance may be at an all-time high. However, I would argue that postal delivery may do more harm to Amazon as the company’s growth expands. Walmart is in the beginning stages of reducing its storefront size and introduce shipping options to compete with Amazon. Other retailers are catching on to add local and same day deliveries. The future of retail may be reverting back to a time when there were actual home visits such as the milkman and vacuum salesperson. Forget about junk mail and telemarketing calls today. I forecast a new sales vision of door and delivery salesmen combined. The new shopping mall may be actually your home and smart device.


update: JC Penny released in a statement it will close 140 of its stores effective immediately. Sears and Macy’s have closed a significant amount of stores already. 


Grammy Prediction Results

Okay, I did watch the Grammy awards. Over twenty days ago I made my predictions. Based on my assessment and choices I apparently do not qualify to have a standing voting record with the Grammy academy. I got a few correct winners out of perhaps eighteen categories. Oh well, at least the Grammy’s had its entertainment moments. Clearly, Adele was the winner sweeping everything in sight. I think if Adele had a country song she would sweep that category too because she couldn’t go wrong.


Katy Perry performed her new single and presented the audience with what seemed was a politically motivate presentation with an armband and large screen displaying the United States Constitution. It was, um, so-so.


Lady Gaga performed a heavy metal duet with Metallica. However, most of the lyrics by lead singer, James Hetfield, were silent due to microphone issues. Clearly, Hetfield displayed his disappointment after the song by tossing his guitar at the stage staff and walking off the stage. Gaga did do an excellent crowd surf and back on stage without missing a note. Overall, it was different for Gaga but felt like a Hedwig Robinson moment from the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch. The verdict is still out on how that performance rates.


The best highlight was when Twenty One Pilots went to receive their Grammy; minus the pants. Apparently, when they were younger and watched the Grammy’s at home, they would watch in their underwear. Therefore, they made a commitment that if they ever won a Grammy, they would appear on stage in their underwear.


Another good moment was when the host, James Corden, did an impromptu Carpool Karaoke with a star-studded musical cast with the legendary Neal Diamond. The entire arena sang Sweet Caroline.


Adele had a pitch problem, which led to a start over for her live song and tribute to the late George Michael. I’m glad she started over because it was a beautiful tribute and song. The audience seemed to agree. But when Adele received her Grammy joined on the stage with the co-writer the microphone was cut off due to the time and the audience booed in a deep displeasure to the Grammy stage management.


It was good to see The Time perform a tribute to Prince. Everyone seemed to be dancing in the isles. But Bruno Mars managed to capture the ghost of Prince in full costume; minus the high heel shoes. But his guitar abilities were as if Prince was in the auditorium alive and well. It was a beautiful tribute.


Here are my predictions and outcomes from a previous posting:


Record Of The Year

I predicted: Adele

Winner: Adele

Album Of The Year

I predicted: Adele

Winner: Adele

Song Of The Year

I predicted: Justin Bieber

Winner: Adele

Best New Artist

I predicted: The Chainsmokers

Winner: Chance the Rapper

Best Pop Solo Performance

I predicted: Ariana Grande 

Winner: Adele

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

I predicted: Twenty One Pilots

Winner: Twenty One Pilots

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album

I predicted: Bob Dylan

Winner: Willie Nelson

Best Pop Vocal Album

I predicted: Sia

Winner: Adele

Best Dance Recording

I predicted: The Chainsmokers

Winner: The Chainsmokers

Best Dance/Electronic Album

I predicted: nobody

Winner: Flume

Best Contemporary Instrumental Album

I predicted: Herb Albert

Winner: Snarky Puppy

Best Rock Performance

I predicted: David Bowie

Winner: David Bowie

Best Metal Performance

I predicted: Korn

Winner: Megadeath

Best Rock Song

I predicted: Twenty One Pilots

Winner: David Bowie

Best Rock Album

I predicted: Weezer

Winner: Cage the Elephant

Best Alternative Music Album

I predicted: Radiohead

Winner: David Bowie

Best R&B Performance

I predicted: Rihanna

Winner: Solange

Best Traditional R&B Performance

I predicted: Fantasia Barino

Winner: Lalah Hathaway

$15 for Popcorn at Superbowl?

During our educational years, we may have learned about supply and demand. However, when do supply and demand become price gouging? It was mentioned that the NRG Stadium in Houston where Superbowl LI took place had bottled water priced at $6 each and a cup of soda at $11 each. Popcorn was listed at $15, and a scoop of ice cream was $11. Yes, we have perhaps witnessed an event where prices are so out of control or bizarre that we avoid concerts or supporting the arts altogether.

It is bad enough that our supply and demand needs currently have us paying an average cost of a movie ticket at $10 or more only to be punished by having to watch a barrage of movie trailers and commercials just to get a decent seat. The snack bar at theaters is no secret to a majority of us that already see skyrocketing popcorn prices and basic drinks starting prices as if we are at a Superbowl event. The sad part is that we pay those ridiculous prices.

There was a time where people would come together and enjoy events without such unreasonable prices. Concert or event tickets are controlled by ticket companies that levy additional fees. We are merely left at the mercy of either paying for it or hopefully watching it later on an HBO special or DVD. Personally, I do not mind convenience, but I do mind being exploited. Exploitation of supply and demand methods eventually harm the intended purpose. For example, Circus prices became so expensive as well as souvenirs that it crippled its business model and became bankrupt. Some states have price gouging laws. However, it is hard to prosecute and enforce.

I support for free enterprise and competition. However, I am wary where supply and demand become exploitative and diminishes an event that has an ability to bring people together. A bucket of regular standard unflavored popcorn should hardly cost $15. A basic cup of soda should not cost $11. Then again, parking at an event should not cost $20. We should reassess a fair market system where supply and demand in a public setting are equitable and reasonable for all. Otherwise, stadiums and certain events create a culture of black marketing where we lose focus on the actual event.


Mary Tyler Moore and Reflection

I was sad the learn that television actress Mary Tyler Moore passed away on Wednesday. In my early years, I grew up around the television set. I remember watching the Mary Tyler Moore Show at a very young age. I didn’t really comprehend or understand the innuendo or modern life of what the show entailed. What I did understand was comedy, laughter and a bit of slapstick. Despite the adult-minded humor, Mary Tyler Moore and her cast were able to make me laugh and smile.

Most people will remember Mary Tyler Moore when she appeared on the Dick Van Dyke Show. I was only a year old when that show ended, so it’s safe to say that Moore was already an established television star. Her career continued quietly from Broadway to Motion Picture films. Additionally, her career would oversee many productions under her company name at MTM Enterprises. That success would create such shows as The Bob Newhart Show, WKRP in Cincinnati, and Hill Street Blues to name a few.

Many people may not be aware of her charity work with animal rights, and she was a devout vegetarian. Moore was a Type 1 diabetic and volunteered, sponsored and donated countless hours and dollars to an organization that greatly affected her life. Moore was not one to take a back seat to women’s issues. In fact, she was the unofficial women’s movement leader of her time. She was the first television actress to wear pants on television despite the fact that a house rule of all females would wear dresses or skirts. Television sponsors were so outraged at her wearing pants that she could only wear pants once a week in studio taping to keep sponsorship of her popular television shows. To me, Moore was an icon of the women’s equality movement. She was the face and voice of women’s concerns using a television platform to get women’s issues addressed.

Moore was also sidekick to the ever popular Ed Asner and Betty White. Her serious pan face on camera could make anyone laugh because she seemed stuck in the middle of idiotic situations relevant to our daily encounters. We knew what she was thinking even before the facial expression which made the laugh even funnier. It’s difficult to recreate that quality form of serious character in an expression that appears real in a comedic role. Perhaps that is what I am trying to say. Mary Tyler Moore was a real person that didn’t force us to laugh. In fact, we laughed along with her. For that, she will be surely missed.


Grammy Predictions

I decided to take a moment of my free time and search the upcoming Grammy nominees. That way I can determine if I am giving music a chance or actually listening to anything worthwhile. Instead, I want to have a little fun and predict who I think will win and add who or what song I enjoy.


Record Of The Year: I predict “Hello” by Adele will win. But my favorite song in that category is “Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots.


Album Of The Year: I think “25” by Adele will win this category. But I think “Lemonade” by Beyoncé has an equal change. Otherwise look for Kanye to leap on stage just to give some added drama.


Song Of The Year: While I am not a Justin Bieber fan I predict that he may win in this category for the song “Love Yourself” which was co-written by Ed Sheeran. Otherwise a close second will be Mike Posner for “I Took A Pill In Ibiza” which was a very catchy and favorite summer tune.


Best New Artist: Of course this is the kiss of death category because those that typically win in this category usually are one hit wonders. But The Chainsmokers may win this one hands down.


Best Pop Solo Performance: I have mixed feelings about this, but a strong contender and winner in this category is Ariana Grande for “Dangerous Woman.” The voters may see Beyoncé as a potential win.


Best Pop Duo/Group Performance: Again I will lean towards Twenty One Pilots as the winner. But let’s not forget Rihanna featuring Drake with the powerful hit “Work” as a possible winner.


Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album: I think Bob Dylan will capture the most votes overall in this category. After all, he is a legend in the music community.


Best Pop Vocal Album: Actually I think Sia will win a Grammy for this with “This Is Acting.” She had many top hits under this release, and DJ’s are still spinning her catchy records from the past to present.


Best Dance Recording: The Chainsmokers will walk away with a Grammy for Don’t Let Me Down.


Best Dance/Electronic Album: Okay, I didn’t actually listen to this category so my prediction will be like rolling dice. I’m clueless to any winner.


Best Contemporary Instrumental Album: Human Nature by Herb Albert is my favorite pick.


Best Rock Performance: I think the Grammy artists will overwhelmingly pick David Bowie although Disturbed with The Sound Of Silence (Live on Conan) should win the category.


Best Metal Performance: I have no idea who will win. But I will take a stab at Korn.


Best Rock Song: I think Twenty One Pilots could steal this from David Bowie.


Best Rock Album: It may sound silly, but Weezer may still have what it takes to score a win. After all, they have been doing this for nearly 20 plus years.


Best Alternative Music Album: I pick Radiohead.


Best R&B Performance: I think Rihanna will take the Grammy.


Best Traditional R&B Performance: I haven’t heard too much in this category, but my bet is on Fantasia with “Sleeping With The One I Love.”


I will stop there because I have no idea about the other categories ranging from Polka, Country, and Classical to Gospel. The Grammy’s will air February 12th so I will check back to see how well or poorly I predicted. Please share your thoughts in comments.