Where Did The Week Go…

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Last year I wrote about the ridiculousness of Black Friday and how it seems to come earlier and earlier every year. Last year Wal-Mart decided to open at 10 pm Thanksgiving night. Other retailers such as Target and Best Buy opened at midnight, but it was only a matter of time until those major retail chains followed Wal-Mart’s Black Thursday plan. This year, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, Sears and Target will all open as early as 8 pm Thanksgiving night.

With all of these retailers trying to outdo one another in the biggest shopping day of the year, employees have apparently had enough. One frustrated California Target employee set up an online petition asking the retail giant not to open on Thanksgiving.

Black Friday is turning into Black Thursday.

In a petition titled “Target: Take the high road and save Thanksgiving,” a woman by the name of C Renee wrote to the president and CEO of Target Corp urging them to reconsider the 9 pm opening of the store. She highlighted the fact that retail workers typically have only three days off for the entire year including turkey day and that it’s a day that should be reserved for giving thanks and spending time with family.

So far more than 185,000 people have signed the petition and about 40 other petitions have popped up on Change.org protesting the earlier openings. While these petitions are a great way for workers to be heard, creating change may prove to be more difficult. Petitions have been created in the past few years to protest the Black Friday/Thursday problem and so far it’s done little to change retailers minds.

Last year, Black Friday sales increased 6.6 percent as U.S. consumers spent $11.4 billion according to Bloomberg.com. When you’re talking about revenue in the billions on a single day, convincing retail giants to think about lowly workers could be an impossible task.

A group of Wal-Mart workers are planing to strike at about 1,000 stores on Black Friday. Perhaps it will have to come to that for retailers to give in.

Netflix Instant Pick: Super 8

During the summer of 1979, a group of friends set out to make a zombie movie using a super 8 camera. While filming at a train station, they witness the cause and aftermath of a train derailment. Shortly after, unusual disappearances and strange events begin to occur in their small town. The local deputy tries to uncover the truth surrounding the train derailment while also dealing with the government’s attempt to hide what’s really going on.

A nostalgic trip back to early Spielberg films.

Super 8 is a nostalgic trip back to early Steven Spielberg films including Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. Director J.J. Abrams attempts to make an old-fashioned summer blockbuster focusing on characters over spectacle. The star of the film, young Joel Courtney, more than holds his own as a boy coping with the loss of a parent while also dealing with the usual teenage problems: girls, puberty and fitting in.

While the film was better than most blockbusters during the summer of 2011, it still felt a little disappointing. Abrams seemed to focus more on trying to make a film that reminds us of an old Spielberg classic rather than making his own original movie.

The film features good performances by the child actors and a couple of spectacular action sequences. But the father-son relationship at the heart of the story could have been developed more (although the ending between them is truly moving) and the alien creature didn’t seem interesting or original.

But if you’re in the mood for a summer blockbuster that isn’t a superhero movie or a sequel, Super 8 is worth checking out.

The ups and downs of fantasy football

This past Sunday I enjoyed both the joy and sorrow of playing fantasy sports. But before I get into that let’s go back.

A little over a month ago I was invited by a friend to join his fantasy football league because someone in his league had apparently given up after starting 0-4. It had been years since I had played so I thought, what the hell. After seeing the crater-like hole this guy had dug me, I realized this could be an enjoyable challenge.

Besides having the best quarterback in football, Aaron Rodgers, a pretty good core of wide receivers and a great tight end, the rest of the team was a bit of a mess. Players on injured reserve were still on the team, other players on their bye week were still in his lineup and positions altogether went unfilled. It would take some time, but I thought I could turn this team around.

I forgot how competitive this silly game is.

And turn it around I did. Four weeks later I had the team at 4-4 with a challenging matchup on Sunday. With my enthusiasm for fantasy football reinvigorated, I was looking forward to another victory. But after getting off work I checked my matchup and realized I was down 106 to 101 with my kicker and his running back left for Sunday Night Football.

Now I was fully invested in the Bears vs. the Texans, two teams I could care less about otherwise. Watching the first half, I realized this was going to be an ugly game. With the rain falling, neither team could muster much offense and as a result, the halftime score was 10-3 Texans.

Now you could look at this scenario two different ways: The weather is bad so that means fewer scores, possibly more field goals than touchdowns. Or it would go the other way, conditions so bad that the Bears can’t even get into field goal range for my kicker to put up points.

And then Jay Cutler went down just before halftime with a concussion. Now I had to rely on backup quarterback Jason Campbell. My opponent had Matt Forte at running back, but he only managed 39 yards on 16 carries. After a second field goal by Bears kicker Robbie Gould, I had managed to tie the score at 109.

I was suddenly hearing Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber saying “So you’re telling me there’s a chance… YEAH!!” Early in the fourth quarter, Campbell got the team close enough for another field goal. With the way Forte had been running, I realized this could be a winning kick. At 48 yards I knew it would be difficult, but the reliable Gould had gone 6 for 7 on kicks longer than 40 yards this season so I was feeling pretty good.

After the ball was snapped and the kick went up, it looked like it was going right down the middle. And then, suddenly, it veered sharply to the left. He missed it. As a result I dropped one point. I ended up losing 109 to 108. My undefeated streak since taking over had ended.

This seemingly forgettable Sunday night game cost me as I’m sure it cost a lot of other fantasy owners, but that’s what’s great about playing. You’re invested in almost every game in some way. Here’s hoping this Sunday is just as dramatic, but with a different ending.

 

 

 

 

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