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Sunday, September 17, 2021

A quick search through this blog tells you that I’m a tea freak. I ought to create a subcategory for it on here… Maybe not.

But I drink lots of the stuff. I had three or four cups of the hot variety today alone. And among those cups were a couple using Lipton’s new-fangled pyramid satchel bags. I bought a box of the Bavarian Wild Berry brand, which is quite good — like most berry flavors, the hint of sweetness goes pretty well with the body of black tea. (Don’t ask me why they tacked on that “Bavarian” tag; as far as I know, southern Germany isn’t particularly known for either its berries or its teas, and there’s no hokey descriptor on the packaging. I’m betting the product branders at Lipton were simply at a loss for an appropriate signifier, and just settled on this placename.)

Yes, I’m a sucker for these types of food industry gimmicks. But I’ve got plenty of company: Lipton’s rollout represents a mass-produced move away from the 100-year-old teabag, and toward both a better cup of tea and the cultivation of an expanding tea-drinking market in the United States.

Joseph P. Simrany, the president of the Tea Association of the USA, which is based in Manhattan, said tea sales are projected to grow 10 percent a year for “the foreseeable future,” fueled in part by ready-to-drink bottled iced tea and by an increasing belief that tea, especially green tea, is healthful. Tea bag sales are lumped in with figures for loose teas, so there are no statistics for the growth of the tea bag segment of the market. But, Mr. Simrany said, “the new tea bags are changing consumer attitudes toward tea; the snobbism is gone.”

The snobby aspect of tea-imbibing is gone? Shit, I think I’ll give up the stuff now. That was half the fun… Although I think my continuing to get my workday tea fixes from Starbucks will preserve that hoity-toitiness. (I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before they put their Tazo brand into these triangular-shaped holders.)

No word on if this move to the pyramid is an attempt by the tea industry to disassociate from the sexually-descriptive use of the word “teabag”.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 09/17/2006 11:28pm
Category: Food
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Well, is he? I think he’s making a pretty strong argument, in the form of his starring roles in his past two live-action* films:

- Garden State, which conveyed the self-alienation inherent in the old maxim “you can’t go home again”, especially as it applies to 20- and 30-somethings;

- His current release, The Last Kiss, a poignant illustration of anxiety onset over the imminent end of adultescence.

Incidentally, I liked both flicks, especially the just-seen Last Kiss. That one turned out to be a pleasant surprise for me, as I was expecting more of a standard angsty romantic comedy, which wasn’t what came off at all. It turned out to be a nicely-nuanced take on relationship dynamics, well-played throughout (overcoming some shakiness in the first 15 minutes that hinted at a generic buddy movie).

If the obligatory hype surrounding the opening of Last Kiss didn’t touch upon this, then some reporter and/or publicist slipped up. Braff’s cinematic track record clearly points to an affinity to playing the everyman for today’s quarter-lifers. And you could hardly find a more convincing spokesperson: An nerdish schlub, exuding equal parts awkwardness and charm, with bug-eyed big-nosed looks that make him more appealing than any conventionally-handsome Hollywood leading man.

Aside from this film work, Braff’s covered the bases offscreen in an effort to connect with his audience. Not only has he got his own blog, but he’s also branched out to his own MySpace page. He’s everywhere Gen X (and Y) is!

I’m sure Braff doesn’t want to be typecast as Mr. Generation X for the rest of his career. But for now, it looks like he’s filling that niche effectively.

*Obviously, for the purposes of this discussion, I’m ignoring his voice role as Chicken Little.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 09/17/2006 06:51pm
Category: Celebrity, Movies, Society
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I certainly don’t want to make a weekly habit out of bitching out “ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown”. But…

No Dr. Phil this time, thankfully. Instead, Berman and the gang found another way to annoy me:

Squeezing in the maximum number of 10, 15, and 20-year-old NFL Films clips into a two-hour pre-game show. Honestly, every time I looked up, I saw yet another “highlight” from the likes of Randall Cunningham, Joe Montana and Jason Sehorn — players who are long gone.

What’s the point? A couple of looks to yesteryear, fine. But I swear, every other segment during the first 90 minutes of today’s show must have contained some oldtime game film. Enough already! The focus should be on relevance to the here and now. There’s enough highlight material from Week 1 and the preseason to dip into; and if that’s not enough, then extend back to last season. But that’s it. Leave the rampant flashbacks to “Baseball Today”.

Over-reliance on the classics instantly grants a moldy-oldie veneer to “Countdown”, especially when compared to FOX’s trying-to-be-hip pre-game jokefest. If ESPN wants to project an old-man vibe with its Sunday NFL programming, they’re certainly on their way. Hopefully, they’ll curtail the archive material sharply, starting next week.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 09/17/2006 12:59pm
Category: Football, TV
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Among Fortune 500 CEOs, Sun Microsystems’ Jonathan Schwartz is still the only one who has a blog (at least, one that’s worthy of the name: regularly updated and consisting of more than regurgitated press release and public statement clips). Because like I said, blogging ain’t a good idea for everybody.

And it all boils down to expressive ability — something in which chief executives are often handicapped:

Consultants say blogging suits natural-born writers — but it’s tough for other executives.

“Ultimately, a good blog is good writing. Most CEOs are not good writers,” said Debbie Weil, a Washington-based consultant and author of “The Corporate Blogging Book.”

“The packaging and controlling of the corporate message has always been done for them, so often they don’t realize that writing well is hard work and takes time and thought and practice,” said Weil.

The future of CEO blogging among larger firms relies upon how much of a premium companies want to put on this aspect of corporate communication. Right now, part of a chief executive’s professional polish includes the ability to make solid public appearances, be ambassador for the company, and generally gladhand in the corporate stratosphere. Should sharp, engaging writing skills be included in this repetoire?

Balance that against other trends: The rise of podcasts and vlogs as alternatives to traditional written posts; disclosure concerns from legal departments; the accusations of over-devotion to blogging when the stock price starts dropping (something Schwartz is starting to feel); the affinity that small-company CEOs have for blogging and how that might trickle up the corporate foodchain. It’s an evolving landscape.

While it’s all sorting itself out, why not experiment with a dedicated corner office repository for all the company’s blogging output? Why not a CBO — Chief Blogging Officer? It could be an extension of general employee-maintained blogs as practiced at Microsoft, Sun and other companies. It takes the pressure off the CEO to seem “with it” on the permalinking front, and still produces a human voice from the executive suite.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 09/17/2006 12:31pm
Category: Bloggin', Business
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