Best of 'Small Talk' in 2011

Brendan Francis Newnam and Rico Gagliano from The Dinner Party recount the best under-the-radar business stories from 2011. Two of them involve sleeping.

Jeremy Hobson: Well as we wrap up Marketplace for 2011, we wanted to bring you some of the business stories that you may have missed. So we've got two people who make a living finding stories the rest of us can't. You might know them from a segment we call Small Talk. I'm talking about our friends Brendan Francis Newnam and Rico Gagliano. They're the hosts of APM's The Dinner Party. And they've come prepared with some of their favorite offbeat stories of the year. Hi guys.

Rico Gagliano: Hello.

Brendan Newnam: Hello.

Hobson: Brendan, first to you.

Newnam: That's right, we're the basement dwellers of the news world and here's what we've found. One of our favorites was a paint company in Canada, CIL Paints, launched a paint colors for men collection in November. Now most of their paints' original names were geared towards women and they were designed to kind of create an emotional connection. So this was an effort to create more interest among male consumers.

Gagliano: Right. For say, their man cave maybe, to paint their man cave.

Newnam: That's right. And to garner free publicity, which they're now receiving. Again, you're welcome.

Hobson: Still, even to this day.

Newnam: So, for example, some of their colors -- they changed "Butterscotch," sounds like a nice color -- they changed that to "Beer Time," which is considered "manly."

Gagliano: It sure is.

Newnam: "Peacock’s Plume," the male version is "Pimpin’ The Trans-Am."

Gagliano: Can't you just visualize that?

Hobson: What color is it, by the way?

Newnam: It's a turquoise is, I think, is the actual original color. I guess.

Hobson: You know, maybe instead of changing the actual name, they might change the color of the paint.

Gagliano: Good point.

Hobson: Anyway, that's just my thoughts. I'm not in the paint business. Rico, what about you? What stories do you have for us?

Gagliano: This is an item that appeared on a lot of tech blogs earlier this year. I don't think this thing was ever actually built. But it was a prototype alarm clock. And the idea was before you went to bed at night, you would put paper money, like you know...

Hobson: Like a dollar bill?

Gagliano: Sure. Or a $1,000 bill if you're...

Hobson: Part of the 1 percent.

Gagliano: Correct. In the morning the alarm would go off and then the clock would slowly start shredding the money until you were perhaps motivated to wake the heck up. And I think that would work.

Hobson: That would probably work, I think.

Gagliano: I'm surprised that nobody's actually made this thing yet. There was a ton of buzz about it, but it still seems not to exist.

Hobson: OK. So an alarm clock that eats your money, paint that is just for men. What else have we got?

Newnam: Well we have another kind of sleep-related story. Crowne Plaza, the international hotel chain, earlier this year introduced snore patrols. And these are snore monitors who roam the hallways listening for people snoring too loudly and then they knock on the door and they kind of ask them to stop snoring.

Gagliano: Talk about your awesome part-time jobs, right?

Hobson: Yeah, is this just to increase the level of employment in the country or?

Gagliano: I guess.

Newnam: That's right. It's been a boon to people with library science degrees. It's also a great opportunity for creeps who want to roam around listening.

Gagliano: Yeah, at last. Also, you just know that at some point they're going to start charging you to stay in the sort of quiet zone area of the hotel, which to me is like paying to have wings on the plane.

Hobson: Yeah, that's true.

Gagliano: Isn't this why we go to a hotel?

Hobson: Brendan Francis Newnam and Rico Gagliano are the hosts of APM's culture show The Dinner Party. You can hear more from them at DinnerPartyDownload.org. Guys, thanks.

Gagliano: Thank you.

Newnam: Thanks.

About the author

Rico Gagliano is the host of Dinner Party Download.

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