Friday, July 8, 2011


Greetings from Branson! Yep, that's right, Branson, MO--home of fried foods; early dinners; bodies of every shape, size and mullet color; American flags (with a few Confederate flags thrown in); and amazing southwest Missouri scenery. I'm here for my annual golf trip with my son and there are few places better to observe the middle-class American consumer.

- Things you don't find in Branson: foreign cars, dinner reservations, linen shorts, bookstores, Apple products, Whole Foods and Starbuck's. (Okay, there's one Starbucks...)

- A year after Facebook achieved 500 million users, it announced that it now has 750 million users. Yet, there are lingering concerns that Facebook has plateaued, or at least slowed its growth. Last May, its audience in the U.S. fell from 155.2 million to 149.4 million. Globally, Facebook's reach continued to expand thanks to gains from heavily populated, developing countries. There is speculation that users of Facebook in the U.S. have tapped out on who they can "friend"--once you have friended past girlfriends/boyfriends, high school pals and current colleagues, your friends list stagnates. (Source: USA Today)

- How many bad movies is Kevin James going to be allowed to make?

- The American Idol tour kicked off in West Valley City, UT this week. The top 11 finishers on the show are part of the entourage which will perform 47 shows over the next few months. As expected, the Utah show was a sellout.

- Curb Your Enthusiasm starts season number eight on HBO, debuting this Sunday. Entourage will begin its eighth and final season on Sunday, July 24, also on HBO.

- Kansas City peeps--the Trader Joe's at Ward Parkway Center opens on Friday, July 15.

- Back on Branson--this tourist area tranformed into a major destination in 1983 when the 7,500 seat Swiss Villa Amphitheater opened. The venue was later named the Black Oak Mountain Amphitheater and, ironically, became a place where acts like Def Leppard, Lynryd Skynyrd, Ozzy Osbourne and REO Speedwagon performed. The next major move, also in 1983, was when Roy Clark of Hee Haw fame opened the Roy Clark Celebrity Theater. Clark thus became the first major country performer to have his own venue in Branson, paving the way for others to follow.

- Music sales are up 8.5%, year-over-year, during the first half of 2011, meaning that this is likely to be the first year of positive music sales since 2004. Not surprisingly, digital sales are driving the growth--digital album sales are up 20% and digital track sales are up 11%. (Source: AdAge Mediaworks)

- R.E.M is working on a new album, according to a web post from Michael Stipe. The band's last release, Collapse Into Now, was the last record of their contract with Warner Bros.

- Can someone explain why certain California wineries will ship product to Kansas and others will not? Just wonderin'...

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