Target Closed On Easter Day

Target Store LogoOn Easter Day I went over to Target on Coleman Avenue in San Jose. The first thing I noticed that the parking lot was empty, which made for a strange contrast to the full parking lots in the shopping center. Three rows of red shopping carts barricaded the front doors, as if to prevent a gang of shoplifters−or the zombie apocalypse−from crashing through. The same company that required workers to cut short their holiday to open the stores on Thanksgiving Day, and later let hackers stole 40 million credit card numbers, wasn’t open on Easter Day.

A quick Internet search revealed that Target had a 50-50 chance of being open for Easter. What prompted Target to give their employees a day off on a major religious holiday?

I would like to say that Target turned over a new leaf after the disasters with Thanksgiving Day and the data breach, and decided to put employees and customers first over profits. Uh, no. Let’s be real: Target is no Costco (i.e., closes on major holidays, pays their employees a living wage, and provide excellent customer service). Target is very much a Wall Street corporation, where increasing shareholder value at the expense of employees and customers is a paramount priority.

An alternative explanation is that Target as a “corporate person” got religion. With the Hobby Lobby lawsuit at the Supreme Court trying to define the corporate entity as a “person” with free speech rights (i.e., spending unlimited money on political campaigns) and moral consciousness (i.e., denying female employees access to contraception under health insurance policies), some companies will get right with God to become Christians and observe all the religious holidays. I doubt these “born again” companies will be less hypocritical than before.

Anyway, I went over to Safeway to pick up what I needed for this shopping trip.

Chef Carla Hall @ Santana Row

Chef Carla Hall @ Santana RowMy friend and I were at Santana Row last Saturday evening when we walked into Sur La Table to pick up some cooking utensils, saw a display announcing that Chef Carla Hall, current co-host of the “The Chew” and former competitor in “Top Chef” (Season Five), was having a book signing. We both thought that this event was for later this month. A sales clerk informed us that the cooking demo was taking place outside, the book signing was inside, and that Carla was running late from being in Southern California that morning.

Since we had nothing better to do, my friend bought the book, “Carla’s Comfort Foods: Favorite Dishes from Around the World,” and we stuck around for a few hours.

I’ve been a big fan of “Top Chef” since Season One premiered in 2006 because it was new, different and fun for a Reality TV series. Alas, Season One was special because the chefs were new to competitive cooking, didn’t know what to expect, and put the focus on their cooking. Season Two was horrible as the focus was on the hijinks of the contestants and cooking took a backseat. Every season thereafter was on a downhill slide where I stopped caring about the show over the years. I didn’t watch Season Ten when it aired last year.

Season Five may have been the exception to this sad state of affairs. Carla was the runner-up for that season. Out of the many winners and losers over the years, she has maintained a higher visibility than most by trading in her catering business to become a celebrity chef. Before my car died from a blown head gasket last year, I used to hear her on KGO Radio’s “Cooking With Ryan Scott” from time to time. Since I generally don’t watch TV, I’m not familiar with her work on ABC’s “The Chew.”

Carla arrived an hour late, strolling out of the store and on to the mini stage, where a cooking table with an overhead mirror and prepped food was waiting for her. Caribbean-style music blared out from the restaurant behind her. With her headset on, she introduced herself as she prepared an Italian dish called caponata with eggplants, explained the international flavor of her new cookbook, and took questions about being on “The Chew” and “Top Chef.” She was quite funny and the caponata was quite tasty.

After the cooking demo, Carla went inside the store and my friend lined up outside for the book signing. I spent my time roaming around the store, looking at items and being thankful that I’m unemployed, broke and immune from buying any kitchen gadgets. One item in particular I was looking for was a grill press. Not the BBQ kind, but the ones used in commercial kitchens. I’m using a heavy pot lid to press my hamburger patties on the stove. Alas, the store only had the BBQ kind. My friend, meanwhile, got his book signed and had a picture taken with Carla.

Bye-Bye At The Century Domes

Century Domes Are ClosedAfter the Retro Dome had one last showing of “Raiders of The Lost Ark” at the Century 21 with 1,000 people in attendance, the iconic Century Domes has closed their doors after nearly 50 years. Without a historical landmark designation, the Domes are destined for the dustbin of history. My friend and I attended party, and, not surprisingly, we found ourselves in the front row because of the sold-out crowd. Beach balls were flying fast and furious as people knocked them about.

As the announcements got made, the booing and hissing got louder.

The Retro Dome people had a meeting with the Santana Row developer that acquired a 99-year lease—not a 50-year lease as previously reported—to redevelop the Winchester Boulevard property. The developer has no interest in preserving the domes, would demolish all the buildings (including the Flames Restaurant at the corner), and build another Santana Row II with more luxury stores and expensive housing. (The most popular audience rumor was that Bloomingdale and Saks Fifth Street will become anchor tenants.) If the any of the domes do get a historical landmark designation, the surviving domes will not remain as movie theaters and get retrofitted into something else.

Everyone, of course, got encouraged to contact the San Jose mayor and their council member to get a historical landmark designation for the Century Domes and reject the demolition permit that waiting for approval. The city, of course, would rather have the jobs, development fees and sales tax revenues that comes from a big project like this. Given the choice between preserving the a historical building and adding to the city’s bottom line, San Jose doesn’t have a good track record in saving old buildings that aren’t historical landmarks.

As for “Raiders of The Lost Ark,” this wasn’t my first time seeing it on the big screen. I saw the IMAX version that came out in 2012. But I really enjoyed watching the movie on the big screen at Century 21, as it has the special magic that the IMAX lacks. The audio system packed an incredible wallop with each gunshot, reminding me how the explosions from some movies can rattle my lungs. Since Borders closed at Santana Row in 2011, my friend and I have gone to other theaters with better hangout spots. We haven’t realized how much we have missed the Century Domes until this final showing.

The Return of Morpheus

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I was browsing through a business magazine when I noticed a Kia K900 car ad that featured Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) from “The Matrix” movie that came out 15 years ago. I did a double take. Bad enough that Samuel Jackson wears a T-shirt that says, “I’m not Laurence Fishburne,” because, well, they both look like an aging Morpheus. There are even rumors of a new “Matrix” trilogy in the works. Now we got the return of Morpheus as a car salesman in this Kia Super Bowl commercial that I didn’t hear about. Doesn’t make any sense to me. I’m already missing the Kia hamsters.