Updates from March, 2005 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Ted Mann 10:30 am on March 28, 2005 Permalink | Reply  

    Goin’ Public 

    I don’t usually delve into the family bidness here, but my dad’s recent wheelings and dealings are pretty interesting. As friends and family may know, he’s currently running a company called Prestige Brands, Inc., which is basically a hodgepodge of name brand consumer products, like Comet, Chloraseptic, Compound W, Cutex, and Clear Eyes (if it starts with the letter C, it’s all good). Most of these brands were neglected by former owners, and my dad’s company has been fabulously successful at reviving them and manufacturing the products for less than behemoths like P&G ever could.

    So, about two months ago, the investment bankers came a callin’. They spent most of January and early February dragging my dad around the country on one of those grueling “road shows,” where he’s supposed to wow potential investors. And then on February 10, at last, the company went officially public. It was a huge success — alarmingly so, as I think Prestige Brands is now worth like a bajillion dollars on paper.

    My dad and his colleagues were supposed to ring the opening bell on the big day, but for some reason the turkeys at the NYSE bumped them for New Century Financial Corp. (I mean, come on, those dudes weren’t even going public!) Anyway, the Prestige team was invited back last Thursday to officially do the honors. I got a pic of the event, which I’ll paste below.

    As you can see from the close-up of my dad’s expression, instead of pressing the “ring bell” button, as instructed, he accidentally hit the one labeled “incite market panic.” Not very slick.



    • Korey 1:10 pm on March 28, 2005 Permalink | Reply

      You’re right — the market cap is currently $884,500,000.

      But the price-earning ratio is at 69. Usually it’s around 20, maybe 25. Anything above 30 is usually a tech company (or, once upon a time, a krispy kreme).

    • David S 7:29 pm on March 30, 2005 Permalink | Reply

      Your daddy reminds me of Johnny Carson or Jimmy Carter… Heeeerrrrreeeessss TurkeyMonkey’s Dad!

  • Ted Mann 10:47 pm on March 27, 2005 Permalink | Reply  

    Westchester, NY, here we come! 

    Match Results

  • Ted Mann 9:07 pm on March 15, 2005 Permalink | Reply  

    TiVo for the Radio 

    Back during the anxious buildup to Christmas, I posted about the single strangest development of married life: That of Ana checking my email. What irked me in particular was how she read an email I’d sent to myself, a sort of reminder to put the Griffin RadioShark on my Christmas list. Well, here we are four months later, and all has finally been forgiven.

    Thanks to Ana’s snotty comment about the RadioShark to my family, my Secret Santa got the message, and shortly after Groundhog Day the device was delivered. I’ve waited ’til now to post my thoughts because I was on the fence about whether it was, as billed, “TiVo for the radio” or just another gizmo-of-the-moment, destined for the electronics scrap heap that is my closet. I’m happy to report that the RadioShark does indeed kick ass.

    As a quick aside (actually a shameless Mann-family plug), if you’re not familiar with the idea of on-demand radio, you should check out my cousin Cam’s March 2005 Wiredarticle in the March ’05 issue of Wired. Titled “The Resurrection of Indie Radio,” it’s about how digital (HD) radio and on-demand radio have given DJs outside of Clear Channel’s empire a fighting chance. There was also a little sidebar about devices like RadioShark and programs like RadioTime, which allow you to record programs and — may the Royal We forgive me — save ’em to your iPod.

    I love NPR, but I love this technology even more. It’s always seemed to me that “This American Life” is only broadcast at the most inconvenient, hard-to-remember times. For a while now, I’ve gotten around this by downloading the show from Audible.com, but it hardly seems fair to pay for public radio. Enter RadioShark. Now I can get not only TAL, but also “Fresh Air,” “On the Media,” and all the other goodies WHYY has to offer. Sure the gizmo lists at $70, but if you’ve got a procrastinating Secret Santa on your side, it’s free as a can be.

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    • Bill Dettering 1:56 am on March 16, 2005 Permalink | Reply

      If you’re into time shifting radio, try Replay Radio.

      Replay Radio lets you record ANY Radio station broadcast over the Web as an MP3 file, and then copy it to your iPod or other MP3 player. It will even burn CDs automatically.

      Replay Radio comes with a database of over 900 shows and 1200 stations, and you can easily add your own.

      Check it out! A free trial is available from here:



  • Ted Mann 6:45 pm on March 8, 2005 Permalink | Reply  

    When Confused, Respond in Pictures 

    The Treasure Trove message board, Tweleve.org, has hit a serious brick wall. Despite having almost 5,000 users and over 10,000 articles — all within less than two months! — nobody has posted a real breakthrough since late January. Still, that hasn’t stopped some would-be treasure hunters, myself included, from bombarding the board with their crackpot theories and ADD ramblings. The serious treasure hunters once flamed these people, back when they wanted to keep the conversations on topic, but now it seems they’re at a loss for words — and ideas. In a thread containing a mildly plausible but completely unverified “sub-poem” even the moderators’ responses have devolved into pictorial WTFs, like the one below. Behold what the good folks at Wired have termed “the collective brainpower of thousands”!


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    • Gwynne 4:58 pm on March 10, 2005 Permalink | Reply

      Apparently those at WNYC really, really hate me. Fresh Air has been taken out of its 7pm slot and replaced with Radio Lab.

      Habitually I turned on the radio at 7pm last night and while I was busy being devastated and longing for Terry’s voice, I heard a pretty interesting segment about the reasoning ability of “the mob.” Apparently some old dead English guy (whose name I can’t remember) wrote many papers about how crowds/mobs/the mass, whatever you wish to call it, were nothing more that a collection of idiots who added nothing to society. He also, by the way was the inventor of Eugenics. ‘Nuff said.

      Anyway, in an effort to prove his theory, that the mob was no more than a mass of morons, he held a simple experiment at a town fair. He set up a cow beside him and asked, “How much does this cow weigh?”. Much to his surprise, the mean answer was only several pounds away from the real weight of the cow!

      Hmmm, guess the mob ain’t so dumb after all. The same experiment can be done with anything, (“how many jellybeans in the jar?”) and the mean answer of the crowd will always be amazingly close.

      So, even though you Treasure Trovers have apparently hit a wall, youre much closer to finding the answer together than as individuals. Though Im not sure a bunch of Dans friends aimlessly wandering around Central Park constitutes a mob..though maybe.

  • Ted Mann 9:53 am on March 3, 2005 Permalink | Reply  


    Despite my affirmations not to blither on about The Gates, like so many avant-garde dog lovers, I realize that, in Tuesday’s dissertation-length post about the cross-fertilization of treasure hunting and saffron wall-hangings, I’ve done just that. Hopefully it’s not too late to repent.

    Somerville Gates.jpgThanks to Michael Meiser’s blog and the trusty ol’ NY Times, I happened upon a couple brilliant alternatives to The Gates. “The Somerville Gates” was created by Hargo, aka Geoff Hargadon, a 50-year-old from Cambridge, MA, whose “last installation was a studio full of discarded ATM receipts.” His work truly is a sight to behold, and the similarities to Central Park’s Gates abound. “Like Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Hargo used recyclable materials for ‘The Somerville Gates.’ Unlike them, he accepts donations to defray the cost of his installation, which was $3.50.”

    Equally captivating is “The Crackers,” a cheddar-cheese-and-peanut-butter masterpieceThe Crackers.jpg from the minds of Chris and Jane Cunniffe. A publishing executive and advertising copywriter, Chris and Jane are my artistic soul mates, I think. As they put it on their website, “‘The Crackers’ is as much a public happening as it is a tasty snack, defying the domino theory.” And at $1 less than “The Somerville Gates,” a bargain, too!

    “The Somerville Gates” is now off-line, but you can still have a shot at purchasing it at a Boston benefit art auction. “The Crackers,” on the other hand, is entirely for profit. If you’d like a tote bag or onesie, you should totally check out “The Crackers” Cafe Press store.

    More pics after the jump.
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  • Ted Mann 11:26 pm on March 1, 2005 Permalink | Reply  

    If You Build It, Treasure Hunters Will Come 

    People like the Christo and Jean-Claude, the artists behind the Central Park Gates, are endlessly fascinating to me. They first conceived of the idea of blanketing the walkways of the park with large arches of saffron fabric in 1979, and despite two decades of people wondering quizzically, “you want to do what?!” they stuck with it. They funded the massive $20 million installation completely by themselves, and they oversaw every aspect of its installation.

    Last weekend Ana and I made the trip to New York to visit my best friend Dan and check out the much-heralded Gates. The last thing I want to do is give you some mental masturbation about what they mean, what they truly say about the human existence. But I can make two observations: On a cold gray February day, the kind of dreary day when most people would rather be watching Desperate Housewives, these ginormous structures had brought people out to the park in droves. They were sledding, jogging, and in at least one case, forming a search party of 13 to look for treasure tokens.

    My second observation, having seen the aerial photographs and first-person perspective, is that the Gates seemed to act as a kind of orange highlighter, tracing every single pathway of the park. I’m not sure if this is what the artists intended, but it sure is an interesting way to pay tribute to the expansive landscaping that comprises Central Park.

    If given the opportunity to ask Christo and Jean-Claude one question, though, it wouldn’t be about orange highlighters. No, what I want know is, How on earth do you harness obsessive compulsiveness in such a productive way?

    In my experience, having a compulsive personality means indulging in lots of bad habits on the sly. The urge to make a pinky-finger pick, especially when no one is looking, is just too hard to resist. Without the yellow gook known as “No Bite” on my fingernails, I just can’t stop myself from taking a nibble. And of course, when Ana goes to bed, my hands unconsciously reach for “A Treasure’s Trove.”

    Sometimes, I confess, these bad habits have a way of bleeding into my encounters with other people. I find myself gnashing on a nail in an office conversation, or my finger rising inexorably towards my nose while driving with Ana. And, as was the case last Friday night, I whip out the book in a pitiful attempt to impress new friends.
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    • Claire Iveson 12:14 am on September 22, 2005 Permalink | Reply

      Wow! Glad to hear that Commerce Street is about the coolest part of the West Village! My family lived in the rear apartment directly over the stage of the Cherry Lane from the late thirties until we moved (regretfully, on my part) to Pasadena, CA, when I was ten. I grew up eating in the Blue Mill, in part because my mother didn’t want to stand in ration lines and so we eat out a lot.

      When I was in NYC in the late 1990s, the restaurant had a new name. So it was a pleasant surprise that it was back to being the Blue Mill when I visited this summer.

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