Monday, December 1, 2008

The Hot List: December

So this year has really been exciting and the end is finally in sight. What's going to be popular in December? Typically we rationalize everything we've done in the entire year into one month of ego-fulfillment - it's like packing everything up and retaining the really useful and wanted things in our mental schemas. See, we'll start with a cognitive blank slate in January and look to new things, issues, and cultural artifacts to identify with.

So let's close out 2008 with the Hot List for December:


Q-Ba-Maze marble maze. This is an amazing piece of desk art and a real joy for tinkerers like me. Looks great and is fun to play with.

Blackberries as unnecessary consumer devices. Perfect example of manufactured need, since teenagers actually aren't so popular as to require BlackBerrys in class to allow them to check and respond to email and pings. What business coudl they possibly be conducting? Regardless, 85% of mobile sales occur in the holidays (ridiculous...? a little high perhaps?) and all the major carriers are really pushing their BlackBerry products. Expect more of these under the tree than any other year before (and they're not being given to business people)

First-person shooter games. Left 4 Dead, Resistance 2, and Call of Duty: World at War (among others) have all been seriously promoted in the last few weeks. Great gifts for the 32 year old guy with a week off work and no need to leave the house!
Leather bags are enduring and look good on anyone. Simple brown bags with clean lines and a distressed look that comes from actual full-weather use. Cole Haan for expensive ones, Buffalo or Urban Behavior for mid-priced and cheap ones.

Real Christmas trees as opposed to artificial trees. They shed and are a bitch to clean, but real trees actually have less of a carbon footprint than plastic trees (made from fossil fuels...) and don't sit in landfills for the next thousand years.

Wine from obscure American wine regions like Michigan, the NY Finger Lakes, Missouri, and the Texas Hill Country. They're local so they're not contributing significant carbon waste through long-distance transportation, they're significantly less expensive than California, Oregon, Washington, and Ontario wines, and they have rapidly improved in quality thanks to viticultural subsidization to diversify state agriculture.

Luxury tourism to less advertised Southern Hemisphere countries: Mauritius, South Africa, Chile, Brazil. Enough Australia. Enough New Zealand. Argentina is already basking in a popularity glow with Buenos Aires being named second most desirable city (after Bangkok).


Awareness of Kopi Luwak coffee. Note, it will not actually be popular to buy or drink this coffee because it's priced up to $600 per pound and made from coffee beans that have been digested and pooped out by the civet cat in the jungles of Malaysia. I am not joking. It's apparently really nice coffee though!

Awareness of global issues during the holidays. A historic US election, highly publicized terrorist attacks in Mumbai, continuing war in Afghanistan and Iraq, genocide and starvation in Darfur, and general unrest for a lot of the world's population in less developed countries will weigh pretty heavily on consumers' minds as they sip their $50 cup of Civet Poo coffee. Be nice and donate to the Red Cross this holiday or another favoured charity of yours. I really like this because you can choose what projects to support and actually have some sense of where your money is going. Check them out.

A subdued holidays – what’s there to celebrate? It's been a rough year and people have no money. Black Friday and Cyber Monday's sales were lower than expected, probably the lowest in twenty years. More people will be spending the holidays at home, watching their wallets, and spending time with family.

Christmas shopping with reusable bags, scorn for retailers who provide bags that cannot be recycled. They're cumbersome and incredibly wasteful. Even plastic biodegradable bags have problems being separated in the garbage by recyclers.

Greater comparison of renewable energies against each other. So start comparing geothermal, nuclear, wind, solar, and hydro. Which has the greatest cost benefits? Which has the lowest installed impact on the natural environment? It's funny because consumers aren't moving the curve for renewable energy, technologists and industrialists are. Big big companies (Exxon, Chevron, GE, Suncor) are showing more of a concerned effort at developing renewables than consumers would ever believe. Consumers though will start being more vocal about what technologies matter to them. BTW, I vote for wind, or neural energy like the Machines have been able to harness like in The Matrix!

Backlash against Dubai excessiveness. Dubai will be finishing the structural construction of the Burj Dubai, proposed construction on a tower twice the size (the Nakheel Tower), opened this luxurious Atlantis Resort on the new Palm Jumeirah, and has more construction cranes than in any other part of the world. It's not just development that's occurring in Dubai, it's a complete polarization of lifestyles there with Emiratis and expats living in opulence and undocumented workers living in squalor. But more than that, who wants to hear about an expensive nonstop party going on when the economy is in the shits? The bloom is off the rose.


Pop music feels so good lately. Crappy stuff like Poker Face by Lady GaGa (she's hot but I still really don't understand the appeal, and how stupid does she look in this picture!) or Britney's 'Womanizer'. It's cool to be mainstream again. Consumers won't really backlash against indie stuff because everyone likes to have their individual tastes anyway (and indie music has seemed to vastly improved in the last two years), but sometimes mainstream music is mainstream for a reason - it's catchy and appealing.

The Smashing Pumpkins. They've been touring as a unified band - well, just Billy and Jimmy anyway - since May, 2008 with a really great show in Paris, and there are now more critical reviews of the dates they've bee playing in North America. Indulgent playlists, crass behavior by Billy, and what would seem like staged interactions with audience members have kinda put a damper on the hopes that this is a reinvigorated band, but they claim to be working on new music to be released as a two-disc early next year. Can't wait. Download 'Gossamer', the 33 minute version for a sonic representation of the kind of indulgence I'm talking about.

Electronica & Dance. Turntabling felt so 1986, then so 2000, then apparently it's back in a big way going into 2009. The latest issue of New York Magazine asked a bunch of teenage boys what they'd most like for a holiday gift. Unanimous responses surrounded "anything DJ-related: 'Serato Scratch Live', 'concert tickets to Chromeo', 'gift certificates to', and 'DJ lessons at' ".

Summer Heights High. Bizarre and hilarious mockumentary from Australia that is filling the void left by True Blood following the season finale last week.

The colours crimson, gold, and black.


Booking cheap getaways for January. Low oil prices coupled with American and European consumers choosing to nest over the holidays have resulted in some seriously low fares for cheap vacations down south. Apparently the cheapest time to go is in January. I just went to BelAir travel and found a 7 night all-inclusive in San Andres, Columbia for $297. Insane.

Taking a Facebook holiday on December 15th. I'm not supporting this group because I'm really not sure what it's meant to accomplish. We all love Facebook, so why are we trying to prove that we don't need it? Meanwhile it already has 793K confirmed attendees worldwide.

Conservativism at the Christmas party. Inappropriate dressing at holiday parties or dressing for the sole purpose of getting attention is in pretty poor taste. Things like kilts, unkempt hair, untied ties, ridiculous boots, or belts or chains that serve no purpose. Look for a return to classically inspired fashion because of the more somber mood this holiday season. Clean, well-pressed clothes with nice lines and nothing too flamboyant.

Giving responsibly this season. This is something I think we can all learn. What are the gifts that your loved ones and friends will really enjoy this season? What are the products or experiences or ways of showing your love that will mean the most to them and last the longest? We all have no money and it's hard to justify extravagant spending this year, so why waste money on a gift that won't be liked or that's irresponsibly expensive? Furthermore, think more about the wastefulness of gift-giving as we know it - the paper, the packaging, the shipping.

Cook a meal, write a song, knit a scarf.

These are the personalized things that will really mean something to those you love. It's also a completely postmodern and Gen Y expression of individuality.


Nicholas Fodor said...

If you're reading this; LEAVE A COMMENT! Let's get some discussion. Even if it's a discussion on how we like the colour crimson.

I agree with the blackberries. I loved seeing all the froshies during frosh events whipping out their blackberries. I'm sorry; do you have an important business email you're expecting. Props to Blackberry though. What used to come in just an old-man device at Bay and King is now a hip facebook device. 0$ blackberries with huge data plans are perfect for teenagers offset purchasing. Brilliant pillaging by Canadians (Bell+RIM)on fellow Canadians.

Love the call of duty series. Left 4 dead looks good too.

Great picture with the Dubai excessiveness.

Crimson rocks.

Personalized gifts keep big CEOs up at night. Post modernism and feelings aside, these gifts will nail our coffin into a deep recession. Consumer confidence in Canada's been pretty strong.

If anyone watched Jackass 2 (the video snippet here:, where weeman (a little person) and Preston Lacey are tied together by a bungie cord, we're wee man, and the U.S. is Preston. Wee man jumps off first, bounces up, then Preston jumps off, dragging Wee man to the water in a spectacular fashion. Canada is currently is the nice rebound stage where everything is dandy, once we realize that the fatman has jumped and is falling in spectacular fashion, it won't matter. We'll be hurtling to the ground so fast we won't know what hit us.

Happy Holidays!

Pat said...

Hey dude,

Been reading your blog secretly for about a month now, it's a goodie keep it up ;)

Just thought you might be interested in this....explanation behind Social Media/WOM etc. It also gives you points at the end about how to implement these changes.

Thanks for writing,