Can you go anywhere good from sex in a Ferris wheel? That is the apparent challenge for Six Flags ( SIX - Get Report) theme park turnaround aspirant Mark Shapiro.

He is either lowering expectations further or being unusually candid for a CEO during a Chicago Tribune interview after his most recent conference call, in which he spoke in a straightforward fashion of his distant dream of grandeur -- or at least, Disney ( DIS - Get Report). ( Editor's note: To access some of these stories, registration or a subscription may be required. Please check the individual links for the site's policy.) He wants to tidy up the balance sheet, that is, get the company out of some of its more than $2 billion in hock.

Shapiro wants to give his localized, teen-centered parks a Disney makeover. But he's said once before and now again that it's going to be a heavy lift. For him to succeed, teenage lawlessness and rude, sullen seasonal park employees must somehow be banished. This is a difficult business with a lot of (literally) moving parts.

The Business Press Maven would not invest in this; at least, not yet. But something about this 36-year-old Shapiro bears watching, if only that he's willing to air customer complaints about seeing sex on the Ferris wheel.

A well-reasoned article in Barron's this weekend covers the reasons investors should not listen to the analysts busily putting out buys on Intel ( INTC - Get Report) and remain cautious of its troubles.

Meanwhile, over at The New York Times, a good review on how Texas Instruments ( TXN - Get Report), a grande dame of technology, has worked toward supplanting Intel. The article mentions up high how rare it is for a technology leader in one era to regain its dominance in another.

That's true, but there are other examples. Apple ( AAPL - Get Report), AMD ( AMD - Get Report) and even a little outfit called Ford ( F - Get Report), which came out with this little ol' thing called the assembly line and more than a half century later came back from its troubles to regain dominance before regaining its troubles.

From troubles, silicon-chips and the (half?) mile-high club, let's go to the avuncular poster boy of consumer-led investing.

A Peter Lynch investor who thinks investing is no more complicated than following a shopper through a mall would be poorly served by following The Business Press Maven. More often than not, he is headed to Foot Locker ( FL - Get Report) for basketball sneakers, and the five-year chart on Foot Locker doesn't have much more lift than the gravity-cursed Business Press Maven. That may change soon, though -- at least according to this morning's Women's Wear Daily.

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, possibly with an assist from Apollo Management, might be making a bid, WWD (not to be confused with WMDs) reports. The bid price, according to sources, could be higher than $30 a share, about 25% higher than where shares trade now. The attraction of the company, which has little in the way of readily visible growth ahead of it, is apparently cash flow -- or maybe a lifetime supply of vintage Air Jordans to the highest bidder.

While we're on the subject of feet, let's have a quick laugh on the subject of soccer. Word across the wire this morning is that overseas (that's overnight to me and maybe you) gains in gold did not hold because traders were sleeping off World Cup hangovers. "I don't expect much to happen in London today," one trader said to Reuters, "but people in New York may move the market because they have no interest in football."

Well, whatever the case on the most recent tick in gold prices, it does seem that inflation, like a fungus, is among us. And stocks, David Dreman rightly points out in the issue of Forbes just out, have been one of the best hedges against inflation. So while he advises toughing it out, he says that the safest bets are large liquid stocks in the U.S. (away from all those hungover traders, who might panic when they regain consciousness).

He says that fear of the recent costs increases at Aetna ( AET) were misplaced, being seasonal, and making it a good investment in the age of inflation. Dreman says that goes for Altria ( MO) and Apache ( APA - Get Report), too.

With earnings season beginning its boil this week, let's hope that, hungover or not, our nation's fearless traders are courageously at their posts today.

For the pros and amateurs out there, Herb Greenberg at MarketWatch just gave us a good primer on what to keep an eye out for earningswise so your portfolio doesn't slide over the edge of any avoidable abyss.

Note, for example, when a company such as Palm ( PALM) books revenue. Palm does so when its phones ship, which is potentially premature.

Also, keep a trained eye on operating margins, especially in the semiconductor industry, where they have been falling. When operating margins melt in face of competition (see OmniVision ( OVTI)), the chance of making money in the company's stock becomes more slippery than a Mississippi eel. Also be wary of companies like Netflix ( NFLX - Get Report) that spend a lot to get the customer counts they like to brag about. There tends to be a bigger chance of disappointment.

And this is something that good stock traders learn in utero, but take heed:

Beware companies -- Greenberg gives as an example Biolase Technology ( BLTI), a maker of dental lasers -- that signed deals as the quarter was winding down (in Biolase's case, with Procter & Gamble ( PG - Get Report)), which add immediate good fortune to a sector of operations. That's not to say the deals are illegitimate; however, out-of-the-box creativity just before the quarter ends, like extra-credit assignments plopped on a teacher's desk just before report cards are filled out, are often an indication of insecurity.

Starbucks ( SBUX - Get Report) reported disappointing same-store sales on Friday and spoke about how part of its future lay in a further roll-out of noncoffee products. Like snow globes. Well, when it comes to business strategies, to each their own.

I just thought it was funny that such is the price of Starbucks coffee (the Business Press Maven taps his home equity line when he gets a grande) that two separate financial advice columns recently made strong recommendations to cut back. Both The New York Times and Motley Fool all but said that those looking to avoid cat food in their dotage should stay away from Starbucks. And don't worry about the shareholders. They'll still be making profits on snow globes, I'm sure.


Please note that due to factors including low market capitalization and/or insufficient public float, we consider Biolase Technology to be a small-cap stock. You should be aware that such stocks are subject to more risk than stocks of larger companies, including greater volatility, lower liquidity and less publicly available information, and that postings such as this one can have an effect on their stock prices.