Alright, this is surely jumping the gun and I’m probably going to take it back by sooner rather than later (my money’s on this afternoon) but right now, what I’m saying is: the new Wall Street Journal rocks, specifically Page One. Yesterday it was an article on an 150 women taking part in an Assassin-inspired game of competitive knitting (“I got the sock. I’m dead.”), today it’s a piece the trials and tribulations of putting on a good Nativity scene this holiday season, with a particular emphasis on the issue of animals who are stealing the show from their human co-stars with hijinks so hilarious I’m not entirely convinced they were unplanned.
In Mount Laurel, New Jersey, M and J were headed off to Bethlehem to do their thing when the donkey Mary was riding freaked out and took off. Joe jumped on the ass and tried to stop him but fell off, got caught in the reins, and was dragged for several hundred feet. At First United Methodist Church in Tuckerton, NJ, a camel ate the set. In Orange County, California, at the Crystal Cathedral, a donkey stepped on Joseph’s foot and broke his toe. At Mount Olives Lutheran church in Mission Viejo, CA, rehearsals got held up for over an hour because two goats were screwing like animals (“They were just acting very inappropriately,” Diane Girard, a co-coordinator of the program said. “We had to break it up.”).
What does any of this have to do with business? Don’t know, don’t care. At all. Maybe I’m just a Jew getting into the Christmas spirit, maybe this article just has me fondly thinking about the time Joseph wrestled Larry to the ground and dislodged a pubic hair from his throat that had been stuck in there for days. I don’t know what it is. I just know I like it, and want it to continue. (Thinking ahead for the coming year: how to deal with the ignorant fucks (that phrase should be in the lede) who tell you you’ve “got some schmutz” on your forehead on Ash Wednesday? The deadly sport of Canasta? These are just for instances, nobody’s saying they’re going to be used, I’m just trying to get a dialogue going, and you know the ‘Journal’ likes to come around these parts for story ideas, anyway.)
Awry in a Manger: It Takes a Miracle To Stage This Play [WSJ]
Who: Mario Gabelli, some other industry people
What: Barron’s Roundtable Discussion
Where: I don’t know, a Sheraton?
When: 23 January 1995
Barron’s guy: “Name the most important events of 1994.”
Industry people: “Peso devaluation blah blah blah rate hikes blah blah blah.”
Gabelli: “The major events of last year, as far as I’m concerned, were Feb. 4, March 14, Nov. 8, Aug. 12, and Oct. 14. On Feb. 4, the Fed hiked interest rates. On March 14 came General Electric’s hostile takeover bid for Kemper. That was a big gong sounding for a whole new wave of takeovers — which I will get into. Nov. 8 was, obviously, when the Republicans came into power. Aug. 12 was the baseball strike. And Oct. 14 was when Pulp Fiction opened.”
Let Us Congregate And Behold The Singular Awesomeness That Is Fox Business News, Via Its Latest Piece On The Increasingly High Risk Of Catastrophic Tarmac CollisionBy John Carney
Recently we received an email from a reader asking for good short recommendations. We’re not in the business of stock analysis. Sure, we called Vonage correctly but that was about as hard as scoring with a sailor during fleet week. But we’re always looking to help readers, and so we thought we might as well marshall the wisdom of this particular crowd. Here’s what our readers asks for.
I’m looking for good short ideas if you have any material, non-public information about turnover in C-level positions, deteriorating balance sheets, dilutive follow-ons, etc, etc.
Feel like publicly engaging in insider trading? Drop a comment below and lets make public some non-public information!
Ernst & Young with another entry into the Teambuilding Unintentional Humor Hall of Fame (thanks to a reader tip). If you missed yesterday’s spiritually transcendent entry, or if you just need a pick-me-up, click here. The new entry is sans-video, but makes up for it in lyrical genius. The primary verse is “E-Y, E-Y, Ernst and Young! From top to finish, we’re gonna be number #1,” only with about 10 other interstitial vocal tracks coming in and screaming out a few syllables in a pitch I can only describe as Mariah Carey punched right in the baby maker. Much like Jimmy Page’s guitar playing in “Ten Years Gone,” a veritable wall of sound is created.
The constant repetition of “E-Y, E-Y” also makes the song sound like a rejected track from Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits.
PS – Time Bandits, if anyone recalls, has perhaps the greatest ending of any movie ever – where the main character’s parents literally blow up, in a rather casual manner as far as exploding parents go, and then Sean Connery as a modern fireman (and pre-modern King Agamemnon) drives up and winks (can anyone find a clip of this?). That “your parents just exploded” wink. Credits. George Harrison chanting. I swear a couple of my staffers at JPM were directed by Gilliam. You have a stomach ulcer? Wink. Staffed on new project. Credits.
We’re a little late to this (via Valleywag via M&A++), but here is an Ernst & Young offering to the Teambuilding Unintentional Humor Hall of Fame. This one may be better than HSBC’s “Let’s Live It.” The video, slick “how do you pack all those classic 80’s hits on one CD!?” production quality and all, is a four and a half minute send-up of the Gospel favorite “Oh Happy Day.” The lead, less Mahalia Jackson and more a person picked to play Amy Grant in the fifth run of an off-Broadway musical about her life, takes us to a very special place with lyrics like, “When Ernst & Young… (wait for it) When Ernst & Young …(second verse same as the first)… When Ernst & Young… (ok, seriously?).“ At least “when Jesus washed” contains a verb, unless Ernst-ing is something cool I haven’t heard of yet.
Corporate Culture – [M&A++]
Never let it be said that The Economist doesn’t enjoy taking people for a ride. In that vein, the publication would like let you know about a special little deal they’ve got going on. “In a nutshell,” they write, the ‘Mist has hired a “small team of employees,” put them in a room, and said, “
go on: mental masturbate to your heart’s content come up with whatever you want, even something entirely unrelated to The Economist Group—as long as it is innovative and online.”
Now they’re not saying they’ve spent all this time getting high and not coming up with anything—in fact, they tell us that the think tank “already has some ideas, of course.” But they want more, and they want you to come up with them for them. Since they’re champions of free markets and everything, and “abhor the concept of a closed system.” That’s why you should submit an idea by March 25 that is “as simple or complex as you like…a product, a service or a business model.” Whatever, really!
If your “idea” is accepted, it immediately becomes the property of The Economist Group in every way, shape and form you can think of (or not think of), including movie rights, video games, and Second Life distribution. What’s in it for you? As a “small token of [The Economist’s] appreciation” you and yours (actually, just you) will receive a free six-month gift subscription to Economist.com. Not the actual magazine, of course, as that would be embarrassingly too generous.
The Economist seeks fortune tellers [Project Red Stripe]
No. This isn’t just a gratuitous swipe at the front page reporting of the Wall Street Journal. It seems that the folks at Dow Jones, the Journal‘s parent company, are teaming up with Barry Diller to create a personal finance site for younger audiences. Diller’s IAC bought up a stake in “girls gone wild”-style humor site College Humor so he’s, like, totally an expert on what the kids want. We can see the marketing campaign now: cue hot girl in undersized t-shirt reading “I Don’t Believe In The Retailization of Hedge Funds.”
[Photo above is from College Humor sister site BustedTees.com, which sells t-shirts by putting them on cute girls.]
Wall Street Journal Lite [New York Post]
We’ve talked before about the role of myth in business news and history. Every so often a company, individual or event will come to stand for something, and often what it comes to stand for is quite distant from the reality. The map is not the territory, as they say. And the myth is not the thing. Which isn’t to say that maps and myths aren’t helpful. Just that we should keep the distance between them and the actual territory in mind.
Increasingly, Amaranth has come to stand for something. It’s becoming the mythological beast of hedge funds. This probably doesn’t make Amaranth founder Nick Maounis very happy, and probably won’t help him raise any money for the new hedge fund he is rumored to be contemplating. But the video above does a good job of showing how, in front of the right audience, a speaker can simply use Amaranth as a shorthand for overconfident, speculative-predictive investing and the audience will know exactly what he’s talking about.
There’s also a nice tidbit about Boone Pickens take on Brian Hunter, which is really what got our attention.
Quick Video Note on Amaranth [MichaelCovel.com]
Just because you’re a billionaire doesn’t mean you need to pilfer away your clams like a sailor on leave in the name of style, substance or safety. Carl Icahn doesn’t believe in buying $23 million jets anymore than he does in having a pair of limited edition Juicy Couture leopard-print skivvies (just kidding—he’s got one for every day of the week). Anyway, in a recent interview with Avenue magazine, Icahn recalled a flight he took with Leon Black and his wife Deborah, on a leased jet, during which he shamed Black for wasting his money in the name of jet-ownership, and played a round of Hide the
Salami Smoke Coming Out of the Engine from Deborah.
“And while I’m saying this [$23 million is too much to spend on a plane], I hear a pop. I’m not kidding you. I look out the window, and it’s like in the war movies. There’s smoke coming out of the engine . . . I close the drapes. Deborah says, ‘What’s that?’ And I say, ‘Nothing. Nothing.’ . . . I run into the cockpit, and the guys are yelling, ‘Mayday! Mayday!’ Leon asks if anything is wrong, and I say, ‘Nothing, nothing, Leon.’
And then Deborah was like “Carl, I’m not a doctor, but should I be worried about the fact that the wing looks like it’s about to break off?” And I was like, “No, no, that’s nothing, look, a shiny object!” But she wouldn’t stop harping on it, so I shot her. What?
AT LEASE THEY LANDED SAFELY [Page Six]
We kinda love Andrew Ross Sorkin (pictured left with DealBreaker’s John Carney and CNBC’s Charlie Gasparino at the DealBreaker launch party, as photographed by Gawker’s Nikola). We literally wake up with him every morning, frantically composing an aggregation of his aggregation of business news over at DealBook. He’s a nice guy and seems to be one of the smarter people doing business writing. I mean, we like him so much that when we last ran into him and he asked about our very own Bess Levin, we offered to introduce him to her. If you have any idea how closely we protect Bess, you know this is a very big deal.
But his essay in Sunday’s New York Times Business Section on management buyouts this weekend was a bit, uhm, innocent. Not clown-suit, Ben Stein level stupid. But just a bit too bright-eyed student essayish. After the jump, we dissect brother Sorkin’s Sunday sermon.
Rewriting the Rules for Buyouts [New York Times]