Friday payday: One more thing

They encouraged us to delegate the decision-making. This meant forming committees, even though everybody had too much other stuff to do already.

Hometown_News For more of my novel, click here.


Just like candy

A lot of people seem to embrace shopping as personal therapy. You see them milling around outside the mall on Sunday morning, waiting for the stores to open – as if there’s something they just can’t live without for a few more hours.

Shopping becomes a consolation prize for the things that aren’t going right in our lives. We want to feel better. Job frustration, partner-problems, conflicts with children or parents, a vague sense of unease – the list can be endless. We need a quick fix, so we feather our nest a bit more – and somehow cross the line to become a packrat – or we indulge in something sweet, say chocolate or cake. Shopping also becomes a way of rewarding ourselves when things do go right – we’ve been promoted, want to thank our spouse for some small gesture or celebrate good grades – this is a list worth expanding, even if it doesn’t lead to shopping!

Mary Pipher wasn’t alone in seeing shopping as a form of addiction – a legal addiction, at that. When we feel pain in our lives, we want a cure-all. Or at least, a momentary escape. In this regard, lotteries and casinos sell themselves as the ultimate product. Buy something and see how long the excitement or pleasure lasts. Look at what you choose to buy when you set out on feel-good shopping, and listen to your emotions along the way. Ask yourself how much you’re buying on impulse and how much price factors into your decisions.

Another way of looking at the experience is to ask:

In general, are there differences between men and women when it comes to shopping?

Do you prefer to look around, just in case you find something, or do you set out with a product in mind and head straight toward it?

Do you go from store to store to compare prices, or do you already know what you’re willing to pay?

Where do you fit in this model – and where is your spouse or the rest of the family?

At the mall or in the big-box stores, most of the men I see are glum, being dragged around by their wives through racks of whatever. They look like fish out of water. (Maybe they’re wondering how to pay for all that.) Yes, there are the exceptions who enjoy plunging in – and we need to hear from them, too.

With the rise of online retailing, do you prefer to shop in a retail store (in person) or on the Web? Why?

How much weight do you give to consumer evaluations online or other non-advertising perspectives?

My wife, in her own great wisdom, simply tells me, “Go enjoy a good cup of coffee. I’ll meet you in a bit.”

Saturday hippie: Folk and jazz

At the outset, the hippie movement’s voice seemed to come mostly from folksingers like Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. And jazz, of course, was long a mainstay of counterculture.

It’s one more element of the Hippie Trails saga.

Who would you add to the list? What songs or albums? Who were your favorites? What do you remember most intensely?

For that matter, folk goes far beyond music itself — there’s all kinds of folk wisdom, traditions, and crafts to consider. What still moves your soul?


Hippies came – and still come – in all varieties. Saturday Hippie is a weekly feature that highlights a counterculture awareness and spirit, including a vision of a harmonious global commonwealth on the horizon. The work and the lessons didn’t end in the ’60s and ’70s. Here’s to the Revolution, near and far.

Friday payday: Mandatory, really?

Meanwhile, attendance at the Saturday management sessions was mandatory. Everybody showed up but Thumper.

They gave us the bad news: “You can’t fire somebody just because he has a bad attitude.” Then we had to fill out the Management Consultants’ attitude test.


For more of my novel, click here.

Right in your your face

One reason many people find it so difficult to get real with money is theological. Yep, you heard right. Let me bluntly argue that the dominant religion in America today is consumerism – and it’s based on bald temptation. Before you scoff, let me remind you that some theologians have already named this condition Mammonism. Among its major tenets:

  • Spending will make you happy.
  • Brand names displayed on your apparel strut your identity, good taste, or socio-economic demographic status. (If you don’t know the current must-have brand names and products, just ask your kids.)
  • Money makes the world go ‘round.
  • There’s a shopping mall within twenty minutes of nine out of 10 Americans.
  • Acceptance at over 12 million Visa locations worldwide. (OK, this reference is very dated. Still … )
  • Billions and billions served.

Now, a few exercises for exploration:

In each of the following fields, name a “superstar” musician, actor or actress, television host or performer, fashion model, and athlete. What special qualities would you assign to each? Which one would you argue is most important to society? Why?

Would you say they’re good role models when it comes to money? (After all, they’re being paid tons for what they do best.)

Why do you think they’re getting all that dough, anyway? (Hint: in the end, it’s not exactly for the reasons you would initially suspect, the musical or acting talent, good looks, or points scored. I’ll explain in a bit.)

Assuming you watch some television during the week, and it’s not all Public Broadcasting, what is your favorite television commercial these days? Why? And the one you find most annoying?

How much of the commercial is about the product or service itself? How much appears to be “something else,” such as music, comedy, drama, atmosphere. What are the hidden messages?

Do you ever catch yourself humming an advertising jingle? Do you use that product? How about repeating a line from a commercial? (Who was it who once asked us, “Where’s the beef?”)

Which jingles and commercials do you hear children repeating?

What other advertising phrases or images come to mind?

Mind-boggling, isn’t it?

Mary Pipher, in The Shelter of Each Other: Rebuilding Our Families, observes, “Children learn these things from the ads: that they are the most important person in the universe; that impulses should not be denied; that pain should not be tolerated; and that the cure for any pain is a product. They learn a mix of dissatisfaction and entitlement.” From this, she concludes: “With the messages of ads, we are socializing our children to be self-centered, impulsive, and addicted. The television teaches values as clearly as any church.” And, she notes, children are exposed to 400 ads a day – more than four million in a lifetime. “Children are taught to be consumers and sold products – junk foods, overpriced clothes, and useless toys.” It all adds up. Here we are, talking about parenting when we set out to discuss money.

As long as we’re in front of the TV set, let’s watch a sporting event. But instead of following the action, zero in on all of the corporate logos and brand names. Jot them down on a sheet of paper. We’re bombarded with a lot more “buy” messages than the ads themselves. We’ll encounter far more than four million product messages in a lifetime:

How many product pitches do you count? What are they selling?

Do you think sponsoring a race-car team really peddles more clothing detergent? Is the event itself sponsored by a company? What payoff do you think they’re getting?

How many of these, such as stadium-rights naming or banners behind home plate, become “free” television advertising?

How many build brand-name loyalty?

As you can see, we live in a product-saturated society. It’s not just TV and radio.

Count your mail or email for a week, and note how much of it is advertising. Some, like your favorite catalogs, may be desired; the bulk is probably a nuisance. (Have you discovered it’s in your power to throw these pieces away, unopened?) There will be a few bills. Maybe even a personal card or letter. So what’s the score?

Each of these commercials preaches at us, conveying messages that may not be obvious. Superstars are showered in riches because they are the “high priests” of consumer culture. One way or another, they get the rest of us to spend on the products wrapped around them – brands that make us believe we’re buying adulation, popularity, athletic prowess, sexuality, a mansion by the sea, or maybe even extended youthfulness. Now what about all those folks sporting clothing adorned with the logo of their favorite hometown team?

You don’t have to buy into any of those presumptions. Not if you’re taking control. As you use your cash-flow notebook, ask yourself how many times a brand name is involved. Could you be just as satisfied turning to a generic or store-brand alternative? Just what is prompting you to spend on this item, anyway? It’s your decision, ultimately.

Writing Wednesday: Review of David Baboulene’s Story Theory Books

Like the question of humor or comedy, the essence of storytelling and fiction will always remain mysterious and elusive. Still, I have to salute those who look deeply for greater understanding and direction.

Ann Marie Thinking Out Loud

I discovered David Baboulene’s story theory book a few years ago, and haven’t stopped reading it since. Last year he adapted his PhD thesis on story theory for the general public, and I loved that too. I want to introduce them to you this week.

David Baboulene

David Baboulene works as a story consultant for film production companies, writers, producers, training and development organisations for stage, page and screen. He also gives seminars and writes extensively on his subject: story theory.

From his website: What is a story? Why do stories exist? How do they work? What gives one story power and leaves another flat? What can I do to make the very best of my story ideas? What tools are available to me to make stories that grip and intrigue?

The Story Book


Author, scriptwriter, story consultant and Ph.D scholar of story theory, David Baboulene, helps you to understand what makes stories that…

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Turn on, Tune in, Drop Out

Keepin’ the vibe alive …

Smile...Laugh...Travel...Love...Be yourself...Enjoy Life

184 Turn on, Tune in, Drop Out 0Make Love, Not War 🙂 Is this slogan familiar to you? And how about this one? Turn on, Tune in, Drop Out ….  Yeap … I see you know them well. 😀  Who doesn’t know them, by the way? For sure, post-war generations were born with them as well as they were brought up with hippies’ subculture.

Probably your parents were members of that youth movement and adopted the unconventional and progressive behaviour of the hippies of that time.

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