Plate of shrimp, the prequel

What are the chances that two nights ago I tripped over my copy of “The Saga of the Sour Toe” by Capt. Dick Stevenson, edited by Dieter Reinmuth, and then today this story pops up in the news?

All I can say is thank goodness the universe was exists purely to create me and entertain me.

Otherwise, I’d go mad (no, don’t tell me I’m mad — let it be your secret you can keep from me!).

If it tastes good…

As an industry consultant, I’ve seen just about every combination of cross-product marketing there is.

Until now!

A popular soft drink manufacturer, in order to increase its market share because of recent losses to niche products, asked me to look for inspiration that its vast advertising/marketing executives had not found.

So, in order to figure out just what makes a soft drink a soft drink, I bought 7 days of time to have a small, local, corner convenience store to myself for a week.

The first day we removed the labels from every product in the store.  Customers were left to decide what they wanted simply by looking at the foodstuff inside the container.

Most customers were perplexed.  They wanted to know if the shape of the bottle or bag indicated the product they were used to.

Using a hidden earbud system, I told the employees behind the counter to say yes.

The second day, we applied the labels of popular colognes and perfumes to the drink and food containers.

For instance:

  • The two most popular soft drink competitors we labeled Chanel and Dior.
  • The three most popular beer competitors we labeled Old Spice, Grey Flannel and English Leather.
  • The five most popular chip/cookie competitors we labeled Drakkar Noir, Stetson, Wild Musk, White Diamonds and Viva La Juicy.

The customers from the day before were a little confused but went ahead and bought the bottle shapes or bag sizes with which they were familiar.

New customers again were perplexed.  Some of them wanted to know if the shape of the bottle or bag indicated the product they were used to.

Again, using a hidden earbud system, I told the employees behind the counter to say yes.

That left a large group of customers who couldn’t remember the shapes or sizes of the products they thought they liked.

Their formerly favourite labeled can of energy drink looked like the can of beer labeled Brut and their formerly favourite labeled bag of cookies looked like the bag of cheese crisps labeled Nautica.

I told the employees behind the counter to assure the customers that their satisfaction was 100% guaranteed — if they didn’t like their mysteriously-labeled product, they could return it for a full refund.

Without prompting the employees to encourage the idea or coaxing the customers to think otherwise, within a couple of days, customers both old and new came into the store to get their more exciting product, which seemed more flavourful and nutritious despite the only change being a new label.

Our lip gloss section we left alone since it already contained liquids and waxes with names like Dunkin Donuts and Dr. Pepper.

Of course, in our small three-shelf section of fragrances, we applied labels like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Budweiser, Coors, Doritos, Golden Flake, Twix and other foodstuff products.

Those few customers who bought their fragrances at our convenience store were surprised at how their usual cologne or perfume had a new aroma, a certain je ne sais quos that enhanced their dating prospects for the night.

By the end of the week, we had increased sales for the convenience store owner due mostly to the curiosity factor.

The following week, the proper labeled bottles and bags were returned to their respectful locations, disappointing a whole new customer base that complained the old labeled products just didn’t taste as delicious as the products with the switched labels from the week before.

I completed the research project report and gave a short presentation to the popular soft drink manufacturer.

Thus, I imagine, you will soon see new adverts promoting the carbonated beverages and processed foods you like, combining them with fragrance manufacturers to show how your whole lifestyle will change when you drink Dior’s favourite wine cooler or Fanta’s favourite cologne.

Is AT&T losing customers to Verizon in north Alabama?

The pulsing migraine headache that has dogged me from the moment I was born is pulsating “louder” than ever today.

I am screaming in my thoughts in order to be heard, using alliteration as method to contain the contagion of madness that wants to spread into the rest of my body.

Using old tricks of my youth to hide my insanity from the rest of the world — running through vocabulary words in any language to keep myself connected with the society into which I was born and am expected to communicate in a legible manner.

The litany of voices I hear and read wants to repeat itself here through the funhouse mirror/brilliant cut crystal ball of a writer.

…the dance instructor I just met who tells me her whole life story in a few minutes — married, divorced, miscarriages, births, lack of silliness, not a girl, not interested in guys, Western Swing dance champion who prefers Balboa dance style, etc., like she has been through this interrogation by strangers a million times and learned to push people away quickly, or…what?

…on social media: the animal rescue posts — please rescue this dog/cat before it’s euthanised, pitbulls aren’t dangerous, found a cat with kittens in a back alley that need to be adopted, etc.;  the gun owners who feel threatened by government regulations and must let us know their fears through LOUD STATEMENTS EVERY DAY; the people who claim they are loving devotees of their religion but they relentlessly post hateful comments about others (Christians against Obama, Buddhists against overcrowded cities, etc.).

So, in my mental confusion, I put a paper bowl filled with water, oatmeal and ground-up flax seed in the microwave oven, set the timer for 20:00 instead of 2:00 and, after taking a shower, I returned to find I had made dried oatmeal/flax seed cakes instead of a bowl of hot cereal.


The universe entertains me constantly, poking me in the side and saying, “See? Isn’t life beautiful? You didn’t burn oatmeal, you made yourself the handheld dried oatmeal cake you’ve always dreamed of eating on the commute to work for years, didn’t you?”

Despite the boring moments between eventful events, while setting up the next scenario to snag the snaggle-toothed snagosaurus, life is, indeed, beautiful.

Surprising, no?

Meditative Moment

As the fresh, raw feelings of loss subside, more days between now and the death of my father than a week or a month ago, as I grow stronger because I savoured and relished the emotional states that passed through my body, I face the future in these words, more than in drawn images or recorded sounds.

As ethnicities spread across the planet and mix, their subcultures subsequently subsiding, the global culture defines itself spontaneously.

How do languages and their speakers survive in a homogenising dough machine, the yeast rising, the bread ready-to-make in the oven of a world in transition?

Do you like the flavours in an “everything” bagel full of wheat, pepper, curry, onions, potatoes, garlic and salt?

Where once the survival traits of one’s gene set ensured early death due to birth defects, lactose intolerance and gluten allergies, the current cultural fixation is to cure us of our genetic abnormalities when normality is a moving target on a Möbius strip of the toroid of life.

One may feel full of God’s love and empty at the same time — the louder one has to shout the words of one’s religion, the less one is believed to have internalised their meaning.

Thus, one may hate the world and love the world simultaneously.

The intersection of subsets of thoughts may clash but innovation and invention arise from the need to mate incongruities into harmonious patterns.

Humour is a single part of an artist’s palette if one is free to express oneself free of coercive commercial interests intent on generating more income than debt.

When a population is mostly freed from survivalistic needs, can the population long survive while pursuing selfish interests in opposition to population [re]generation?

Where are the protectors of the faith that the world is full of purveyors of the emperour’s new clothes that must be declared unsavoury and unhealthy to sustain a population which wants to be around thousands of years from now?

Humour for humour’s sake is a fool’s folly.

Art for art’s sake is a loser’s game.

An uninformed populace will obey the uniformed police without reasonable cause to question authority.

What are we producing to improve our future?

Every day, I wake up and ask myself, “What am I doing today that I’m here for because I didn’t die or kill myself yesterday?”

Some days, I don’t have a good answer so I research the reasons and ask again, knowing I’ll find the tiniest part of me that I improve that day to better answer the question tomorrow.

Some days, I state a plain ol’ platitude, let it sit for a day and look at it from a different perspective the next day, learning most often that I never know everything that I think I did the day before.

One day, I’ll die if I don’t kill myself first when I’m an old man whose tunnel vision prevents him from seeing the car heading into his path as he turns to drive across oncoming traffic on the way to his favourite watering hole, assuming I’ll be driving an antique automobile not retrofitted to stop me from making a traffic mistake in the first place.

There are a lot of days in-between to see how I, despite the errors of myself within the subcultural training I received along the way, can get from here to the Moon, Mars and beyond, one set of states of energy in a population of seven billion and growing.

Last night, my team of subsubsubbasement scientists showed me a new gun they had invented that senses the emotional wellbeing of the shooter and locks the trigger until one’s emotional state of misplaced anger has been subdued with neutralising pharmaceuticals embedded in the gun’s grip, thus preventing many murderous acts of passion by firearms.

Energy now and forever more energy

Just to show that energy studies have been studied for decades, thousands of years after our ancestors discovered fire is good for warmth and a good pot roast:


Odd stat

According to our global product marketplace tracking system, there has been an odd surge in the sales of deer antler spray over the last few hours, beating out the “Haight-Ashbury/Maui Wowee” specials that usually sell so well on late Sunday evenings.

More as it develops…

A shoutout to our friends near Tulane University — you know what we’re talking about.

Thanks to Publix; Walmart; Hardee’s; Another Broken Egg; Wagon Wheel Liquors.