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Couples Retreat

If you’ve had your fill of the winter time blues and need a fun and campy trip to a beautiful tropical paradise, you should check this movie out. Couples Retreat stars the seemingly inseparable Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau team (of Swingers, Made, The Break-Up, and Four Christmases) along with Kristen Bell, Jason Bateman (Arrested Development), Kristen Davis (Sex and the City), Milan Ackerman (Watchmen), Faizon Love and Jean Reno. Shot at St. Regis, Bora Bora (a group of islands in French Polynesia located between New Zealand and the United States), this was about one of the most beautiful movies that I have seen in a long, long time. At one point in the film, one of the characters exclaims that the island “looks like a screensaver” and that it does. The French Polynesia department of tourism should send copies of the movie out as a marketing tool. I’ve never seen such crystal clear blue water.

The basis of the movie is that one couples of a set of friends is on the verge of divorce, so they convince three other couples to go with them on a retreat so they can get a discounted group rate. While at the retreat, they try to work through their relationship issues, and through the mandatory counseling sessions, and other island activities, the couples that didn’t think that they had relationship issues, soon find out that they in fact do. Throughout the movie, there are a few “awww” moments, followed shortly by laughs. This movie will not win any awards, unless the island could get one for Best Scenery, but it’s a great movie to warm yourself during a cold winter night. Make no doubts about it, this is a romantic comedy with relationship issues at the core, but it’s a fun flick that’s as beautiful to watch, as it is entertaining.

I rented this movie in HD via Amazon’s VOD service, but it is also available on Blu-ray and DVD as well. If you’d like to check it out, hit up the links on the right.

SuperFreakonomics

SuperFreakonomics by: Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, is the follow-up to the highly successful Freakonomics, and easily one of the more entertaining books that I have read in a long, long time. I missed the Freakonomics bandwagon when it rolled through town several years ago and I’ve been kicking myself for that after I finished the first few pages of SuperFreakonomics. I will say that I am not an economist, and this is not an econ book that you would find in most collage econ classes (maybe for an extra credit assignment or something). This book is an entertaining, yet harrowing and intense read – it sheds some new light on some of the issues that are facing the world today and gave me a different perspective on things that I thought that I fully understood, yet apparently, I didn’t.
Some random examples of the serious and not so serious variety include:

The book opens with a chapter on Chicago prostitutes working with a pimp is financially more rewarding than a prostitute working alone. Additionally, high-end escorts have less actual sex the higher their rate is. Of course, I’m not a prostitute but I’m all about working less and making more.  Other topics that the book covers includes:

  • Lower birthrates in India when cable TV was introduced because of the autonomy of women.
  • Nobel Prize winners and baseball Hall of Famers live longer, as do annuity buyers because of incentive to collect more.
  • A child born in south-east Uganda and Michigan born in certain months are more likely to have issues due to the large Muslim population and Ramadan.

In the last chapter, Capuchin monkeys can be taught to use money, to not only “buy” food, but they will also pay a premium for food that they like more. In a bit of an unexpected turn, the last chapter circles back around to the first – with the first documented case of monkey prostitution.

This of course, is only a small glimpse into the book – everything mentioned above is fully explained in detail in the book. Even if the thought of monkey prostitution creeps you out, give a few chapters a whirl, I don’t think that you’ll be disappointed.

What Would Google Do?

If you’re only going to read two business books this year, this should be one of them.  The other should be Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk (more on that later).  What Would Google Do? is Jeff Jarvis’ analysis of what Google – one of the fastest growing and most powerful companies in the world of new media – did to get to where it is today.  It’s not just about what Google did and why though, Jarvis gives plenty of other real world examples of other companies that have used some of the Google techniques in their own business  plan to help them gain momentum and standout against the competition.

I only have two brief criticisms of the book. At times, the book might not seem to have direction – it’s organized, but could benefit from some re-orginzation. Additionally, it would have been nice if the author would have included a list of all of the websites listed in the book in one easy to use location. These are two very minor faults in a book that could change the way that you do business for the better. If nothing else, this book will open your eyes with real world examples of what Google and anyone who wants to be successful would do.

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