The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is Disney’s latest release, and not only are viewers anticipating a fairy tale story, dancing, melodious soundtrack and illuminating colors, but they are also expecting a parent to die or not be in the picture early on in the story.
It’s inescapable if you commit to emotionally investing in a Disney film. And if you look closely, it’s more often the mother.
Why? Well let’s first look at some of the classics.
1938 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – Snow’s biological mother died and is replaced by the Evil Queen, her stepmother.
1941 Dumbo – our favorite elephant is parent-less in the movie.
1942 Bambi – sadly, graphic content below….
1950 Cinderella – the most famous princess to ever live is motherless in the movie and haunted by her big-footed step family.
1951 Alice in Wonderland – its been postulated Alice was orphaned and taken care of by a governess.
1963 The Sword and the Stone – Arthur is a 12 year-old orphan boy.
1967 The Jungle Book – Mowgli is found parent-less.
1989 The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s mother, Queen Athena, was killed, leaving her father Triton to raise her and her sisters.
1992 – Aladdin – Princess Jasmine is motherless.
In Tarzan's, Lilo's and The Emperor's New Groove's Kuzko, all lost their parents.
In 1994 not a dry eye was in the house during the scene in which Simba loses Mufasa in The Lion King….
1995 – Pocahontas – it’s revealed her mother had passed a while back.
And the most colorful and comical of the Disney films, Finding Nemo, wasn’t exempt either, with Nemo’s Mom being eaten in the opening scene.
Multiple theories were brought forward by Disney producer, Don Hahn, in an interview to Glamour. The first was that Walt Disney tragically lost his mother when he was younger.
In 1938 the successful film producer, young Walt, purchased a home for his parents and when the gas furnace was faulty he sent his studio men over to fix it. Unfortunately the repair was not adequate and it eventually leaked, and his mother, Flora Call Disney, soon died of asphyxiation.
It’s believed the grieving son found the interweaving of this tragedy into his work as a means to deal with his guilt.
The second theory is that Disney films wanted to mix fairy tale with the reality many children face, adding a sense of “realism” to the stories.
And final theory is Walt Disney wanted children to feel like heroes, and a film in which a child battles evil without the help of Mommy and Daddy infused a sense of empowerment to his target audience.
So the idea of celebrating the triumph of the quest of a parent-less child is probably more pervasive in these movies than the purposeful injection of a gory parental death. Although this makes Disney movies more palatable, I’m still hoping Mufasa was only unconscious and recovered off the set when we weren’t looking.
The President has made illegal immigrants who have moved in to what are called “Sanctuary Cities” a major issue in recent months, even signing an executive order cutting off funds to municipalities that ignore federal law. The Crescent City is in the forefront of ignoring federal law and protecting those there illegally.
Can the City of New Orleans pick and choose which federal laws it will acknowledge and enforce? Most of us understand that if you violate a federal law, then there are consequences. You most likely will be prosecuted and punished. Federal laws on the books are supposed to apply to everyone. That is unless you are an illegal immigrant living in New Orleans.
Didn’t we fight a Civil War over the nullification of federal laws? A century and a half later, New Orleans has joined a host of other American cities in declaring that federal immigration laws are just right down bothersome. It is irrelevant to city leaders in the Crescent City that their actions in supporting widespread illegal immigration is a factor in causing crime rates to rise, and the cost of auto insurance for every Louisiana driver to go up.
No one seems to know how many illegal immigrants have gravitated to Louisiana. Guesstimates have varied from 75,000 to more than 150,000. But when an illegal is arrested for a crime committed in the state, federal law requires that local law enforcement authorities notify the U.S. Immigration and Customs office. New Orleans is not enforcing this requirement. As a New Orleans police department spokesman was quoted as saying: “In general, we’re not cooperating with the ICE.”
So immigrants who are in New Orleans illegally often create a false identity, use a fraudulent Social Security number, falsify federal forms, and, if arrested, are free to go once released by the New Orleans Police Department. We witnessed recently the tragic killing of a young woman in San Francisco, murdered by an illegal immigrant, who was a repeat felon and who had been deported five times.
Crime rates are on the upswing in New Orleans. A just released report by research firm 24/7 Wall Street concludes that New Orleans had the highest per capita firearm homicide rate in the nation—four times the national rate. No one knows how many illegal immigrants are committing crimes, because the city refuses to both monitor and release this information.
And just watch auto insurance rates, already the highest in the nation, go up even more as this policy from the New Orleans Police Department’s immigration manual is implemented. “Officers shall not enforce La. 14.100.13, which states that no alien students or non—resident alien shall operate a motor vehicle in the state without documentation that the person is lawfully present in the United States.” So ignore this state law, right New Orleans? You should just pick and choose what laws you like and the laws you don’t like. Is that what Louisiana has come to?
Traffic accident records show that illegal immigrants are a high risk of not carrying auto insurance. So a driver not at fault has to use their own insurance to pay the damage costs, and insurance rates continue to go up.
What happened that caused the deterioration of the laws on the books concerning illegal immigration? When you break into my home, you are committing a crime. But when you break into my country, it has become, to our leaders in Washington and New Orleans, merely an embarrassing inconvenience. Republicans are now throwing in the towel and giving up on seeing that current law is enforced. Has it become OK to set aside the law and ignore its violation for political purposes?
And what’s all this stuff about “undocumented workers?” The lead Republican in this effort to legalize those who have illegally entered the United States is Florida’s Senator Marco Rubio. He conveniently refers to these illegals as “individuals who are living in the United States without proper immigration documents.” That’s like saying that your local drug dealer is in possession of large amounts of cocaine, but just forgot to get a doctor’s prescription.
There should be major risks and consequences when laws are broken. But besides the President, both political parties are pandering to Hispanic voters who often are sympathetic to lax immigration enforcement. Will Donald Trump goad members of congress to take on Sanctuary cities like New Orleans, and lead a charge for strong enforcement of immigration laws? Let’s hope so.
“All the problems we face in the United States today can be traced to an unenlightened immigration policy on the part of the American Indian.”
Peace and Justice
As the death toll rises and thousands of acres burn between California’s Camp Fire and Woolsey Fire, those residents lucky enough to escape the flames worry what consequences could result in inhaling the smoke.
According to the EPA, smoke emanating from forest and community fires may include any of the following:
According to the EPA,
Smoke is composed primarily of carbon dioxide, water vapor, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, hydrocarbons and other organic chemicals, nitrogen oxides, trace minerals and several thousand other compounds. The actual composition of smoke depends on the fuel type, the temperature of the fire, and the wind conditions. Different types of wood and vegetation are composed of varying amounts of cellulose, lignin, tannins and other polyphenolics, oils, fats, resins, waxes and starches, which produce different compounds when burned.
Some may have no idea they are breathing in harmful compounds that could affect their lungs and heart. However, many may experience:
PM2.5 are particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter that are present in pollution and wildfire smoke that can penetrate deeply into the lung linings. Larger, coarse particles 10 micrometers in diameter are called PM10. Both impair lung function as they inflame the lungs and interfere with the work of alveoli that need to oxygenate the blood. Moreover the small particles can use this pathway to enter the bloodstream. Although the direct health impacts of the fine particulate matter is not clearly defined it is believed that increased PM2.5 levels increase the risk of lung and heart disease as discussed above.
Symptoms may begin at levels greater than 55 µg/m3 .
How can residents protect themselves?
Avoiding the area of wildfires is paramount. Additionally, the following may be considered:
Editor's note: As a companion read you might also be interested in a story we published in Sept. last year: 5 apps to help you recover from hurricanes and wildfires.
An Oregon woman claims her cat helped her detect her breast cancer, and she’s not the first one to claim how furry friends can save lives.
Michelle Pearson adopted a cat, Mia, a few years back from the Humane Society. The one day she pounced on Pearson’s chest, sniffed her breast and directed her owner’s attention to the breast. Days later Michelle was diagnosed with breast cancer.
She states, “All of a sudden out of nowhere, she just got up on my chest and she sniffed that breast and then looked in my face, sniffed the spot again and looked in my face and I tried to shove her off and she came back up and just laid down on that right breast and she looked at me like ‘I’m trying to tell you something.'”
She feels her rescue cat actually “rescued” her.
A woman in California cited the same miracle. Nancy Best stated her dog, also named Mia, would not stop licking her breast. She was eventually diagnosed with breast cancer.
Sometimes animals may not always be friendly towards a diseased body part. My in-law’s poodle would shower everyone with licks except for one person who she would excessively bark at. He was soon diagnosed with brain cancer.
PBS reports that dogs can smell 40 times better than humans, with over 300 million olfactory receptors in their nose. They can smell parts per trillion, a keen sense that is potentially sharp enough to pick up cancer cells and the smells they produce.
Healthline reports that cancer cells raise polyamine levels which come with an odor. Moreover if cancer cells incite an immune response, this can expel a scent as well.
In 1989 a case report revealed a woman’s dog tried to bite a mole off her leg which ended up being malignant melanoma.
According to a 2011 study in the journal Gut, Labrador retrievers were able to sniff out colon cancer in 97% of stool samples.
The Italian Ministry of Defense’s Military Veterinary Center was successful in training German Shepherds to recognize prostate cancer proteins in urine to 98% accuracy.
For those of you with a pet pigeon, don’t feel left out. A University of Iowa study found pigeons to be trained to detect breast cancer cells to 85% accuracy.
So despite our animals possessing the power to sense microscopic anomalies, we shouldn’t panic every time they sniff or lick us. But if they persist on one area of your body, it might be worth getting checked out.
Editor’s note: The folks over at Dogsnaturallymagazine.com also weigh on this topic citing numerous studies and anecdotal evidence all concluding that, yes, it’s very probable that dogs can sniff out ill health. As for cats smelling cancer, well - the research seems to suggest otherwise. Sorry, kitty lovers. =)
"Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited! Every member would be obliged in conscience, to temperance, frugality, and industry; to justice, kindness, and charity towards his fellow men; and to piety, love and reverence toward Almighty God...What a Utopia, what a Paradise would this region be." -John Adams, February 22, 1756
My family and I live in a rural area in the state of Minnesota where every spring we have the opportunity of seeing the farmers plowing up the dirt in their fields so that they can plant their seeds. When Fall comes around, they bring in their seeded harvest.
Every Spring, I ask my children, what are those farmers doing out there? They tell me that they are plowing (Hosea 10:12). What do they do after they plow? They plant their seeds (Mark 4; Galatians 6:7). I then ask, what do they do after that? Dad, they harvest in the Fall the fruit of their seeds planted. I reply that they are right. The seed reproduces after their own kind.
America, I ask, is there any denying the type of seed that was planted in the Spring when harvest time comes around in America? No, the harvest bears fruit in reproduction of the seeds which were planted in the spring.
And so it is with our forefathers, who knew who they were in Christ (Romans 13:14).
Today, approximately three quarters of Americans profess to be Christians and 242 years later, we can see what type of seed that they planted by the harvest that has been brought forth in the present. Again, there is no denying the seed by looking at the harvest.
When we look to the first President of these United States, George Washington, we get a clear understanding as to by whom he was reproduced after.
“Oh, eternal and everlasting God, direct my thoughts, words and work. Wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the Lamb and purge my heart by Thy Holy Spirit. Daily, frame me more and more in the likeness of Thy son, Jesus Christ, that living in Thy fear, and dying in Thy favor, I may in thy appointed time obtain the resurrection of the justified unto eternal life. Bless, O Lord, the whole race of mankind and let the world be filled with the knowledge of Thee and Thy son, Jesus Christ.” -George Washington, Prayer
It is not my objective to prove the obvious fact that America is a Christian nation; it is my objective to show you what and who America has been since our inception. So, imagine with me, if you will.
Imagine a nation of people that walk in the fear of the Lord in departing from iniquity-lawlessness (Proverbs 16:6).
“The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogance, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.” Proverbs 8:13
Imagine a nation that holds to the laws that the Lord gave men that they might remain a free people in doing that which He commands (Exodus 20; John 8:36; Romans 3:31).
Imagine a nation where right is right and wrong is wrong (Deuteronomy 19:19).
Imagine a nation where both men and woman, both young and old, love the Lord with all of their heart, with all of their soul, and with all of their minds (Matthew 23:37-39), and their neighbors as themselves (Mark 12:30; Romans 13:8-10).
Imagine a nation free from vice and division (1 Corinthians 1:10), and unified under Christ (Matthew 23:37; Ephesians 4:5)
Imagine a nation, if you will, where Americans “execute justice for the fatherless and the widow, and love the resident alien, giving him food and clothing” (Deuteronomy 10:18).
Imagine where the pulpits in the churches of America thunder again out the Word of God in hating sin and loving righteousness (Hebrews 1:9), and setting the nations aflame (Psalm 104:4) to the glory of God.
Imagine with me, if you will, where representatives in American government that are just, and “ruling in the fear of God” by magnifying the U.S. Constitution and the laws which they swore to uphold (2 Samuel 23:3).
Imagine a land free of that which God forbids (Psalm 19:11) and where true freedom and liberty is defined!
Imagine a people free from idolatry (Exodus 20:3), in serving only one God (John 14:6), Jesus Christ.
Imagine a nation free from the sodomites (1 Kings 14:24, 15:12), pornography (Matthew 5:28), drunkenness (Proverbs 20:1), and immorality of every kind (1 Corinthians 6:9).
Imagine a nation free from gambling (covetousness; Exodus 20:17) while being content with what we have been given (Philippians 4:11), for it is certain that we can take nothing with us after death (1 Timothy 6:7).
This is real freedom, liberation from sin (Matthew 1:21; John 8:32; 1 John 3:4).
"Christian liberty is freedom from sin, not freedom to sin." –A.W. Tozer
This is, in fact, what America looked like when we adhered to the Word of God; understanding why we were and still are called the light of the world by other nations (John 1:1-5; Isaiah 51:4).
“Blessed is the nation whose God is Lord.” -Psalm 33:12
To those in my generation, the new "do what you want to do" isn’t working out for us (Proverbs 24:21). We all know what this country looks like without its loving adherence to the living God (Matthew 22:32). It is becoming a living Hell (Psalm 9:17).
As Charles Spurgeon rightly proclaimed: “Sin and Hell are married together unless repentance proclaims the divorce.” (Matthew 3:2; Acts 2:38, 20:21; 2 Corinthians 7:10).
So, imagine a reality that once was in this God Blessed Nation, which our forefathers planted, that we may again reap a nation which Heaven intended.
“Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” - Jeremiah 6:16
The horrific Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that left 11 people dead last week was, for good reason, called “the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history.” It was a ghastly crime of appalling proportions. Robert Bowers is charged with 11 counts of using a firearm to commit murder and multiple counts of hate crimes. If he is convicted, as he most assuredly will be, then the death penalty would, and should, be fully justified.
“The crimes of violence are based upon the federal civil rights laws prohibiting hate crimes,” said Scott Brady, U.S. Attorney, and Bob Jones, the FBI special agent in charge of the Pittsburgh office. Brady further avowed that Bowers could face the death penalty if he is convicted of a hate crime.
So, what’s a hate crime you ask? If someone is premeditatedly shot and killed, that’s commonly murder. When you’re dead, you are dead, and there is a strong penalty for that; generally, life or the death penalty. But hate crime supporters want more than justice. They want vengeance.
Under federal law, one can be charged with a hate crime if the crime was motivated by hatred involving race, religion, national origin, color or sexual preference. Penalties for crimes against these groups already exist, but under the law such crimes are enhanced by what’s in the perpetrator’s mind. What ever happened to double jeopardy? Simply put, a prosecutor can bring charges not only for an accused’s conduct, but they also can go after him for his thoughts. In the Four Lads song, Standing on The Corner, Watching All The Girls Go By, there is the lyric, “Brother, you can’t go to jail for what you’re thinking.” Well, in the case of hate laws, apparently you can.
Having deeply troubling concerns over a thought police is nothing new. George Orwell’s novel, 1984 paints a disturbing and chilling scenario where one can be accused of a crime, arrested and prosecuted merely for thoughts in your mind. “The thought police would get him just the same. He had committed… the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime they called it… Sooner or later they were bound to get you.”
Have you ever gotten so mad and pent up that you went into a rage and said things you really didn’t mean? “That sorry, no count blank, blank, blank, blank! I’ll get even with him!” Have you ever used a racial slur? Oh, no, you say. But then, upon reflection, maybe you did once or twice. Does that make you a racist?
If there is supposed to be equal justice under the law, shouldn’t the punishment be based on the crime, and not on who the victim is? If a deranged killer opens fire in a shopping mall, is this less of a crime than a maniac opening fire in a club filled with African Americans or gays? Otherwise, when a life is taken, aren’t we making a determination that that the lives of one particular group have greater value than the lives of another group? Isn’t it a fundamental principle of a democracy that the punishment fits the crime, not the victim?
Ayn Rand wrote about the divisiveness that takes place when preferences are given under the law. “There is no sure way to infect mankind with hatred – brute, blind, virulent hatred – than by splitting it into ethnic groups or tribes.”
Freedom in America means the freedom to have bad thoughts. I may not like what you are thinking, but ideas alone should not be a crime. A criminal should be punished for bad acts, not bad thoughts. James Madison said it well: “We have extinguished forever the ambitious hope of making the laws for the human mind.”
When it comes to crime, yes there should be a protected class that gets full protection from the criminal justice system. That protected class should be all Americans. And every American should be treated equally.
Peace and Justice
Ghosts, goblins, Mommy yelling – Halloween can be pretty scary. But the candy, the costumes, decorations and running door to door threatening all your neighbors with a “trick” makes it one of the most exciting days of the year!
Unfortunately, the more fun and immersed into the festivities, the more dangerous for our little ones. 160,000 injuries occur on this day each year, and even scarier, Halloween is the deadliest for pediatric pedestrians with 7300 fatalities reported annually by the National Safety Council.
Thousands have petitioned the White House this year to move Halloween officially to the last Saturday of October to avoid families rushing home on a work/school night to start the festivities.
However, any day kids are running around in a quest to find sugar puts them at risk and no holiday should end so tragically.
In addition to traffic accidents, parents need to be aware of fire and choking hazards. We therefore recommend the following to keep our kids safe.
Make sure your child’s mask allows him/her to see clearly. If not, replace with non-toxic makeup that is tested a few days before on a small area of skin on their arm to ensure they are not allergic. The makeup should be washed off before bedtime.
2. Avoid long costumes, such as ghost-themed, that may trip your child while they walk/run.
3. Use bright-colored costumes. If your child insists on a dark costume, such as Batman, put a belt of glow sticks around him or add reflective tape to their costume and trick or treat bags
4. Make sure all costumes and hats are flame resistant and teach your kids how to avoid tripping over jack-o-lanterns with candles in them.
5. Avoid costume contact lenses as they may decrease visual acuity, scratch the eye and cause infection.
6. Use the sidewalk. Your child will want to zig zag across the street when they see everyone else doing it. You need to be the parent like me who yells at everyone to get back on the sidewalk.
7. Watch out for drunk drivers. Many are coming back from a “trick or drink” party and could be impaired.
8. Make the “no eating candy until you get home” rule. Allows you to check the candy for open wrappers and dangerous things that don’t belong. Then steal your favorite treats when the child is taking his/her potty break
9. Teach your child to not enter a stranger’s home – even if it is in full decoration
10. Stay in a group and follow your children. You can leave a safe distance behind while still supervise. And it's fun when we parents compete for who can yell at our kids the loudest.
11. Carry Walkie Talkies. Halloween streets get loud and kids may not hear you if they start walking down a different street and turn into a housing complex. Walkie talkies are fun and keep you connecting with your younglings’ even if they are a few feet away.
12. Parents should avoid “Trick-o-Drink!!”ing where we walk around with our red plastic cup and rather than ask for candy, we opt for some spirits poured in. Parents giggle, feeling part of the festivities, but unfortunately will be sloshed by the fourth home they hit and won’t be able to effectively supervise the children. We need to be at the top of our game this Halloween. Cut the booze.
13. And drivers, be wary of trick-or-treaters even before it gets dark. Drive slowly and pay attention! Let’s have a Happy and Safe one!!!
The FDA has approved a new drug, Xofluza (baloxavir marboxil), to help fight the flu this season.
The antiviral is a single dose and is taken within 48 hours of first signs of flu symptoms.
It is only indicated in those older than 12 years old. The cost is approximately $150 for the single dose.
Current antiviral medications approved by the FDA to shorten the course of the flu include Relenza and Tamiflu. These medications are in a class of neuraminidase inhibitors, which inhibit the release of new viral particles that have replicated in a host (patient).
Xofluza, however, works sooner, by preventing the virus from replicating within the host cell in the first place.
Therefore this new drug can stop the spread of flu earlier than its predecessors.
NBC News reported the following:
So the less time one is sick with the flu, the less risk of coming down with a secondary infection such as pneumonia, or other flu related illness.
Moreover if viral shedding is decreased, less family members and contacts can potentially become ill.
Now Xofluza may not prevent the flu in one who has not been exposed because it works by preventing virus that is present from replicating.
Flu symptoms may come abruptly and include:
The most effective way to prevent the flu is avoidance of sick contacts, good hand washing and vaccination.
A rare polio-like illness is startling health officials as multiple states have reported cases of AFM (Acute Flaccid Myelitis).
Since August 2014, the CDC has received reports on 362 cases.
This week we learn of 6 children in Minnesota who have been diagnosed with AFM, which may manifest in symptoms such as sudden muscle weakness, stiffness, slurred speech and facial droop.
The age range of children affected appear to be 3-14. A 6-year-old boy in Washington State died in 2016 and was the first death to be linked to this mysterious illness. His parents reported he had felt ill, became dizzy and within hours suffered swelling in the brain and paralysis. Despite medical efforts, he passed. Although the exact cause is unknown, health experts are considering a variety of possibilities. They have actually been investigating this since 2014 when reports of AFM began to surface across the United States.
AFM stands for Acute Flaccid Myelitis. It’s a condition that occurs suddenly, causing inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, causing loss of muscle tone and reflexes. Although limb weakness is the primary symptom, patients could also exhibit slurred speech, facial drooping, and in serious cases inability to breath due to paralysis of the respiratory muscles. Mild cases appear to resolve but serious cases can cause residual paralysis or death. Children appear to be more affected than adults.
Although health officials do not know for certain, due to its rapid onset, a pathogen such as a virus seems highly likely. With the 2013-2014 outbreak, some of the cases tested positive for enterovirus (EV-D68), but it is not conclusive whether this was the exact cause or just coincidentally found in the patients tested.
Some postulate a combination of viruses may be a factor or an autoimmune disease. Although Guillain-Barre syndrome causes acute limb weakness and paralysis when the immune system begins attacking the nervous system, the report that many individuals feel feverish or ill prior, seem to point to a pathogen as the primary cause although the latter is not being ruled out. Virus families such as enterovirus (including polio and non polio enterovirus), adenovirus (causing respiratory and GI illness) and flaviviruses (including West Nile) have been suspected.
Per the CDC, acute flaccid myelitis is rare (less than 1 in a million cases) however currently they report 362 people affected in currently 16 states (down from 39 states in 2016).
Medical professionals look at a variety of factors.
History: how the paralysis/loss of muscle tone began and which limbs did it affect first
Laboratory tests and CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) testing: to look for signs of infection
MRI of the brain: which may show gray matter involvement in a case of AFM.
There is no standard treatment that has been proven effective, however depending on the severity of the symptoms, health professionals can consider a variety of options including steroids, IVIG, interferon, antivirals and supportive measures.
No. Until they can identify the exact cause, or causes, health officials cannot create a vaccine.
If we assume its a pathogen causing the illness, avoiding contact with sick individuals, being up-to-date on one’s vaccines and good hand-washing are imperative. Although we do not know if AFM is caused by a mosquito-borne illness, avoiding mosquitoes would be wise as well. More therefore needs to be researched to determine why and how those individuals with AFM were infected.
To understand what the Apple Store meant to me, let me tell you a personal story. In the 1960s, I had a hobby, building radio and general audio gear. Some of it I bought for myself, others I assembled for friends — at no charge. Well, I was a teenager, living at home. I wasn’t rich, but I had a tape recorder and a radio and a mic, so I was mostly happy.
In those days, I made periodic trips to one of the early consumer electronics stores, Lafayette Radio. After going bankrupt in 1980, its assets ended up in the hands of the company that eventually became Circuit City.
After moving to the Phoenix area in 1993, I shopped occasionally at a local Circuit City, but mostly for CDs. If I wanted a new Mac, I went online and saved money. It’s not that Circuit City didn’t carry Macs. They had some, and I remember visiting the retailer a few years later and seeing a few dusty models placed haphazardly on a single display table off to the rear
somewhere. Most had been left off. The few that were running mostly displayed a Hypercard slide show that didn’t really entice anyone to buy anything.
Besides, the salespeople were busy encouraging you to check out the real center of the action, the PC tables.
I recall a report some time later, about Steve Jobs admonishing Apple dealers to give Macs a fair shake. Make that demanding in very raw language. It was, after all, vintage Steve Jobs.
Apple finally decided to go its own way, by establishing its own retail chain. Jobs recruited former Target retail executive Ron Johnson to help him design the new stores.
When the first two Apple stores had their grand openings in 2001, in Glendale, CA and Tyson’s Corner, VA, the tech pundits were skeptical. Other electronics manufacturers, including Sony and Gateway, launched chains of branded stores, but they really didn’t go anywhere.
In large part, it’s because they were just ordinary retailers, only focused on a single brand. So why go to one when you could get the very same merchandise at the same price — or less — at a store with a far greater selection?
Apple’s approach was to customize your shopping experience with a specialty boutique with what appeared to be a remarkably noncommercial approach to retail sales. For one thing, you weren’t confronted with greedy salespeople trolling for a sale. Indeed, nobody pushed you to buy anything, or even to leave if you just wanted to just hang out.
If you had a problem with your Apple gadget, there was the Genius Bar where you could get advice, or authorized repairs by a factory trained specialist.
As a contributor to the Arizona Republic, and later Gannett and its national newspaper, USA Today, I attended two of the openings in the Phoenix area. At the Chandler, AZ Fashion Center, I met Johnson, then Apple’s retail chief. I also got an Apple Store T-shirt.
I remember the opening ceremony, where the newly-minded employees welcomed customers with loud rounds of applause.
In 2002, I received a VIP invite to attend the grand opening of an Apple Store in New York’s SoHo district. I was part of an exclusive group that included Apple executives, even Steve Jobs and Phil Schiller, fellow tech reporters and a smattering of show business types.
While there, I had a chance to speak with Jobs for a few moments before he pulled his usual stunt to end a conversation, which was to walk away in mid-sentence. But I also spent several minutes speaking with the comic actor Tim Allen, who starred in one of my favorite movies, “Galaxy Quest.”
Recalling that the film ended in a way that a sequel might have been filmed, Allen said that one key factor that hurt the effort was a motorcycle accident that actor Daryl Mitchell, who portrayed the starship’s navigator, suffered the previous year. The mishap left him paralyzed from the waist down. Despite the handicap, by the way, Mitchell has remained active in show business. These days, he’s a featured player in a hit CBS series, “NCIS: New Orleans.”
But there’s still hope for a “Galaxy Quest” revival on Amazon, despite the 2016 death of Alan Rickman, another star of the cult classic.
Now my feelings about the arrival of the Apple Store in the Phoenix area were mixed. Before they arrived, I made a decent income as a Mac consultant. But Apple could provide much of what I offered, at least to people who didn’t mind carrying their gear to the store, at no charge. It didn’t take long for most of my clients to choose the obvious alternative, even when I lowered my hourly rates.
At first I focused on older gear, mostly Macs that were too old for Apple to provide direct support. As my customers grew older, however, that business mostly faded.
Despite my bittersweet feelings about the matter, I do get to an Apple Store from time to time to check out the new gear. Overall, the shopping experience remains mostly good, but the Genius Bar is often overwhelmed, so you have to reserve a session before you pay a visit.
As to Ron Johnson, he finally left Apple and went on to JCPenney to overhaul the shopping experience over there. But it proved to be a poor fit, and Johnson departed after the struggling retailer’s situation only worsened from his attempts to move them upscale. These days he’s connected with Enjoy, a startup that hopes to overhaul the shopping experience.