Apple has become the most successful brick-and-mortar store in the country, raking in $6,050 per square foot. That's more than twice the rate of Tiffany & Co., its nearest competitor. According to ABC News, that's because Apple has aced the ability to seduce its customers to spend more. "That's why Apple went into bricks-and-mortar retailing," says Robin Lewis, co-author of the book The New Rules of Retail. "And it's why you'll see Amazon and eBay do the same. You can't create the kind of experience consumers want by selling to them just online. The emotional and neurological connection has to be made in person. What the research shows is that retailers who sell both online and through their own brick-and-mortar stores achieve sales 40%-50% higher than those who sell through just one channel or the other." [abcnews.go.com, 11/14/12]
Rihanna's latest hit, "Diamonds," is her 12th No. 1 single. And though the 24-year-old Barbados-born singer has only been on the scene since 2005, she's already in pretty rarified musical territory, tying Madonna and The Supremes in terms of chart-topping singles. Only three other acts have had more: Michael Jackson (13), Mariah Carey (18) and The Beatles (20). [billboard.com, 11/21/12 stats]
PSY's "Gangnam Style" is now officially the most-watched video in the history of YouTube. It has passed Justin Bieber's "Baby," surging to 806.3 million views, approximately 2.4 million more than the Canadian singer's 2010 hit. [huffingtonpost.com, 11/24/12 stats]
Last week, Activision Blizzard bragged that its Call of Duty video game franchise had surpassed the total box office take of Star Wars. This week, it's The Lion King making that claim … from Broadway. On Nov. 18, the stage musical celebrated its 15th anniversary on the Great White Way. In that time, it's become the most financially successful musical ever. Counting revenue from adaptations in 16 different countries, The Lion King show has now raked in more than $5 billion … and that too surpasses a certain group of rebels, droids and wookies from a galaxy far, far away. [abcnews.com, 11/20/12 stats]
Kevin Clash, longtime Muppeteer and voice of Elmo, has left Sesame Street in the wake of allegations that he had sex with two teenage boys. "Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding Kevin's personal life has become a distraction that none of us wants, and he has concluded that he can no longer be effective in his job and has resigned from Sesame Street," a show representative said. "Elmo is bigger than any one person and will continue to be an integral part of Sesame Street to engage, educate and inspire children around the world." [foxnews.com, 11/20/12]
"Each successive generation views Anna from the context of their time. She has been held up as a martyr and a heroine, especially in the 1970s and '80s. For us, she's human, she's flawed, and she's self-will run riot. She is complicated, and that is vital. Tolstoy applauds the breaking of the social rules. But I think he sees a spiritual purpose to marriage, and Anna breaks that bond."
—Joe Wright, director of the 2012 film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's classic book Anna Karenina [usatoday.com, 11/14/12]
"Have you ever had a hamburger? Have you seen how they butcher cows? It's barbaric, it's horrendous, it's very violent. This is the world we live in, so I see it as absolutely important to film."
—Brad Pitt, about the explicit violence portrayed in his new crime thriller Killing Them Softly. He also said, "I would have a much harder time playing a racist or something along those lines. That would be much more unsettling for me than a guy who shoots another guy in the face." [mtv.com, 5/22/12]
The average American sent or received about 678 texts a month in the third quarter of 2012. According to a new study from Chetan Sharma, a mobile industry analyst, that's down from an all-time high of 696 texts the previous quarter and the first ever drop in texting trends since the technology became available. Analysts believe it could mark another shift in how we communicate. "With social networking and other platforms, they really take the messaging feature away from that usual channel," says Wayne Lam, of IHS Technology. "Consumers are messaging, but text messaging as a whole is competing with other forms of messaging." [time.com, 11/15/12]
In order to fit more comfortably into their high-heel shoes, a growing number of women are having their feet surgically altered—often having pinkie toes shortened or removed. "Unless you've been there, and you can't find shoes, and you're in pain, don't judge," says Susan Deming, who recently had such a procedure done. [gothamist.com, 10/16/12; foxnews.com, 11/20/12]
"It feels amazing to be a role model for people with and without disabilities. I get mail from people all over the world now from people who tell me that they didn't really understand Down syndrome, but because of me they have read about it and studied it and now they know a lot more about it. Lots of people with little kids or babies with Down syndrome tell me they aren't afraid of the future or their child because of what I am doing to help people understand it better."
—Glee star Lauren Potter, who is among a growing number of actors with Down syndrome appearing in movies and television. Glee, The Secret Life of the American Teenager and American Horror Story now all have recurring characters with the condition. The upcoming movies Café de Flore and Any Day Now also focus on raising children with Down syndrome (the latter featuring a gay couple adopting a Down syndrome teen). [foxnews.com, 11/20/12]
We've long known that pornography can have a horrific impact on our innate sense of intimacy and sexual inclinations. Now experts say that so-called "food porn"—pictures of huge, succulent cinnamon rolls coated in frosting, for instance, or savory steaks nearly sizzling off magazine pages—can have a detrimental effect on us as well, especially with the likes of Pinterest and Flickr catering to the idea of posting such images. (Flickr's "Food Porn Group" has more than 600,000 images, making it one of the network's biggest.) "Like the sexual kind, food porn allows us to lust after taboo things," says Susan Albers, a psychologist and author of Eating Mindfully. "And now it's on our terms: We can search for exactly what turns us on, enlarge the images, and linger for as long as we want." [abcnews.go.com, 10/7/12]