My 12-year-old son Vermel's flirtation with the theater took a turn for the
worse this week when, because of a scheduling conflict, his synchronized
swimming musical extravaganza The
suffered a hostile takeover by the school holiday
"Vermel!" I shouted, banging on my son's bedroom door. "What have I told
you about singing Christmas
carols before Halloween?"
I shouldn't have snapped at the kid--in retrospect, I see that I was
probably taking out my own frustration on him.
I haven't broken the news to the little tyke yet, but due to market
conditions, Christmas 1998 at the DuBaud household has been shelved.
Yes, that's right: no fresh-cut pine trimmed with RealAudio-synchronized
laser beams glinting off discarded AOL CD-ROMs, no stockings stuffed with
mouse pads and smart cards, no iMac under the tree (this last
galling in light of the fact that Ken Starr
dropped $37,915 on computers, not to mention $56,810 for a copier).
Canceling Christmas is a bona fide debacle, bound to scar my son for life.
But it isn't nearly as disappointing as the latest rumor to hit the Comdex
Rumor has it that scheduled keynoter Michael
Dell won't be speaking after all. The king of direct computer sales was
slated to give his address on opening day. Organizers, however,
started increasing the number of speakers, thereby diluting Dell's star
power. The lineup for the show went from four to five to nine to ten.
Rather than be crowded in with the hoi polloi, everyone's favorite
Dellionaire pulled out of the event. He will now be giving his speech at a
private cocktail party--pray for invites!
Coal and sticks are the holiday lot of other ZD properties (remember when
we had to call it ZD
Comdex?). ZD staffers yesterday found their email stockings stuffed with
TO: All Employees
FROM: ERIC HIPPEAU
DATE: October 28, 1998
SUBJECT: Holiday Parties
Due to recent restructuring across the company and as part of our
continuing cost-containment initiatives, we've decided to cancel the three
formal holiday parties previously scheduled for December in New York City,
Boston, and San Francisco. I encourage you to work with your group
president or direct manager to organize smaller, less formal department
Christmas canceled! Or was it just downsized? Perhaps they're just spinning
it off into smaller units. It's all the heavier a blow when contrasted
with the high times ZD enjoyed before the realities of public life set
in. For last year's Christmas spectacular, par example, ZD rented
out the entire Steinhart
Aquarium and Natural History Museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate
Park. There was dancing among the stuffed lions, and coats were flung over
the T-Rex ribs--you get the picture.
Prudence began intruding on the ZD idyll when the company refused to fork
to Webcast the Devo concert that doubled as a ZDTV launch party, but
apparently that economy wasn't enough to save Christmas. What could
possibly be worse? I suppose they could charge
Times are tough all over, and standards are slipping, as anyone reading the
Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition already knows. One of
Monday's front-page headlines read: "Existing Homes Fall, Softening
Unexpectedly." The question remains, are standards falling in building
materials? Or at copy desks?
Standards certainly aren't doing very well in fashion, either, the considerable
efforts of some in the tech industry notwithstanding. Vermel's
peppy paramour Ammonia Blossom wandered into a Microsoft press
conference this week in San Francisco's ultra-fashionable Union Square
district. She was aghast to see Microsoft vice president of marketing (and
"walking fashion victim," she sniped) Brad Chase, gaudily attired. The diminutive exec,
who was in town to trumpet the triumphant arrival of the
Windows 2000 family, née Windows NT,
was sporting an 80's-esque black shirt with oversized, loudly colored geometric buttons.
Perhaps the bold sartorial choice was an attempt to distract attention from
the crucial question of whether Microsoft's announcement means that
Windows NT 5.0 won't launch until the next millennium.
Speaking of stylish, how about the name for the latest x86 clone chip from IBM,
"Performance Rated MMX-Enhanced Processor." It may not have the ring of,
say, "Celeron," but then again IBM didn't have to turn to some fancy-pants
design company to come up with it, either. In the seasonal spirit of
frugality, they turned to their lawyers.
And in that same spirit, I'm inviting ZD, IBM, and other penny-pinchers to spend the holidays with me and mine. We'll make a nice toasty fire and feast on your rumors