Why am I not Rich?
Some new and some old classic rants.
2013/6/18 12:44:10 (2767 reads)

"Sometimes what may seem like temptation is in reality your destiny calling." — Sven Skupien (June 18, 2013)

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2011/3/31 12:54:14 (4830 reads)

 Adrianne Palicki as Wonder Woman get a costume make-over.It never ceases to amaze me that after seventy years, people still can't get past Wonder Woman's bustier.

 "How can she fight in that?"

"That costume is completely impractical."

"No way.  Her breasts would pop out."

Really?  That's your problem?  You can get past the invisible jet and the bullet-deflecting bracelets and the Lasso of Truth, but not her top?  Ridiculous.  It's called "suspension of disbelief."  You exercise it almost every single day of your life when you watch your favorite cop shows or sitcoms.

Let's not forget the other superheroes you embrace without such scrutiny.

No one seems to question how Spider-Man can catch a woman falling from a building at terminal velocity without her splitting in half or her internal organs being pushed out of her mouth.

You don't question Iron Man carrying enough fire-power to take out a tank and not suffering from any recoil whatsoever.

I haven't heard a single person ask how Batman can carry fifty pounds of armor and a preposterously large cape and still manage to fight with the precision of a ninja.

And Superman?  Don't even get me started.

So let it go.  Enjoy the eye-candy.  Let your heterosexual male friends enjoy the eye-candy.  Let your homosexual female friends enjoy the eye-candy.  It's a costume in a fantasy.  She's supposed to be gorgeous and sexy. 

Embrace the wonder.

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2010/4/28 15:37:20 (7115 reads)

By most accounts, I was a nerd at the age of thirteen. I didn't have horn-rimmed glasses sporting tape around the bridge. I didn't have a pocket-protector or a button-down short-sleeved shirt. I certainly didn't wear high-waters. But... I was smart. I was so smart that I only received one grade that wasn't an A in all of grade school. I took the National Science Teachers Association test and got a higher score than the head of the Science Department at our school. On top of that I was involved in the theater and was the best artist in the school and so I was doomed — an over-achiever without even trying. In grade school all of that added up to one thing. Nerd.

On April 9, 1983, Mike Hammer would change my entire world forever.

Stacy Keach in "Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer in: Murder Me, Murder You" and "More Than Murder"The first time I had ever heard of Hammer's creator Mickey Spillane was the day I saw the first promo for producer Jay Bernstein's Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer in: Murder Me, Murder You. I was instantly captivated. Who was this detective that wasn't overly tall and lanky? Where was the quirky P.I. with the goofy expressions? And more importantly, on what planet was a smart guy surrounded by beautiful women?

When the show finally aired I watched it with my parents. My mother had always watched Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot in anything they happened to be in. We watched Charlie Chan and Miss Marple together. If it was a mystery, my mother would try to watch it and I shared her enthusiasm. But Mike Hammer was different — so different I wasn't sure I should be watching it with my parents around. For obvious reasons I took the risk and when Stacy Keach introduced me for the first time to what would become one of my all time favorite characters, I had started my own metamorphosis.

Later that year I started reinventing myself.

I bought a wide-brim fedora. No, I'm not kidding. A thirteen-year-old wearing a fedora in 1983. Needless to say, that step set me back with the girls. I didn't have the physique to pull that look off.

I started lifting weights and riding my bike everywhere. I thought to myself, "I can be smart and still be interesting to girls. I can be tough." In my circle of friends this was a sign of mental instability, but I risked their ridicule and started to toughen up anyway. I would be a nerd no more.

In 1984, I was granted another gift from the God of Noir, More Than Murder. Tanya Roberts had been replaced by Lindsay Bloom in the role of Velda Sterling. I thought my head was going to explode. "Oh my God, this is the greatest show EVER!" And it was. Stacy Keach had permanently cemented himself in my mind as one of my favorite actors. Mike Hammer had become as important to me as the Batman (no small feat in the world of nerds). But still... I was ever the geek to the girls in my world.

Later that year the television series spawned from those movies started and I never missed an episode. I had even made the bold decision to get a more manly haircut, thanks to the chiding of my drama teacher. I was one step closer to reaching my ultimate goal of "Braniac Tough Guy." Over the next two years I became the darling of the high-school theater. I was popular, but more because of my talent than my personality. Awesome — but I wanted more.

Mickey Spillane's "Vengeance Is Mine"I was old enough to drive when I made my final leap into Hammerdom. I had happened upon an old paperback of Vengeance Is Mine by Spillane himself. Up to this time I had yet to read a single word that he had written. Mike Hammer was essentially Stacy Keach to me. The book was old and somewhat rare and actually pretty expensive for a kid of 16, but I bought it anyway.

Holy crap.

Where had I been?

Best book EVER.

After that I changed. A lot. I looked different. I walked different. I didn't take any crap. If you messed with me I messed back, but because I was the smart guy I usually managed to walk away without getting my hands dirty with the dean. I pushed things so far that I became one of those kids with the crazy hair and clothes and it didn't matter. I was on a roll. Girls loved me. Teachers loved me. Hell, even the jocks loved me, at least to my face. I had become confident, strong and smart.

Mike Hammer had saved me from a fate that I at least perceived to be worse than death.

A lot of years had passed. I'd had kids for over half of my life and I was trying to introduce them to the things that influenced me. I dedicated most of my time to trying to enrich their lives instead of mine like most parents. But I still had my favorite things from my youth, and Mike Hammer was at the top of the list.

Then Mickey Spillane passed away in 2006 and I felt that a huge part of my life had ended. What? No more novels? I had never met him and yet I was profoundly saddened by his death. And then...

Max Allan CollinsSpillane's friend and collaborator Max Allan Collins, with the help and blessing of Spillane's widow Jane, resurrected my hero. He finished The Goliath Bone novel. He co-wrote and completed Spillane's unfinished novel The Big Bang. He wrote the second and third episodes of the audio show The New Adventures of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer.

Stacy Keach stepped up to the plate and provided the voice of Mike Hammer for the new series as well as reading the audio book versions of the new Hammer novels.


Mickey SpillaneSpillane's fictional masterpiece helped make me the man I am today. Thanks to Collins' masterful writing and Keach's untouchable portrayal I don't have to let that part of my life slip away. With any luck my whiny kids will become interested and toughen-up a little, too, and the cycle will begin anew.

Long live Mike Hammer.

"The Big Bang" by Mickey Spillane & Max Allan CollinsBuy The Big Bang by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins at your local book store or online at Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

"The Big Bang" by Mickey Spillane & Max Allan CollinsBuy The New Adventures of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, Vol. 2: The Little Death Written by Max Allan Collins and starring Stacy Keach. Find it at your local book store or online at Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

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2010/2/18 15:34:28 (3997 reads)

 Evaporated Cane Juice CrystalsIf you're anything like me, you watch your weight and what you eat, but you can always stand to lose a few pounds — or maybe 15 pounds. At any rate, you read the ingredients and the fat content and the calorie count on almost everything you pick up for the first time at the grocery store. More accurately, you skim over the ingredients looking for numbers higher than 2 or 3 and the ever present high-fructose corn syrup. The numbers are low. The sugar isn't there. You buy the product and feel proud of yourself all the way home and well into the consumption of your latest healthy find.

But you aren't exactly like me. You probably didn't spend over half of your life in the marketing world. If you have, by all means read on. You won't learn anything about marketing, but you may learn a little bit about that box of Kaschi in your cupboard. So back to the point... you aren't a marketer and you don't notice things like "evaporated cane juice crystals" and say to yourself "Wait a minute... what the hell are evaporated cane juice crystals?" Well, I'll tell you. They're magic marketing beans. They're "hey, this cereal has no sugar" crystals sending signals directly from the box, through your tired and not really paying attention brain and all the way back down to your money-holding fingertips.

They're snake oil.

According to CNN Health correspondent Dr. Melina Jampolis "Evaporated cane juice is pretty much just sugar. It is less processed so it retains trace vitamins and minerals but has the same amount of calories as sugar."1

She goes on to talk about further benefits of not refining the sugar but I can tell you from experience that an ingredients label listing juice as opposed to sugar wasn't written with your health in mind. It was composed at an advertising or marketing agency with your health conscious, yet still a little lazy, buzz word skimming brain in mind.

Cane juice indeed.

1 Ask Dr. G., Glamour, 04/09

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2009/4/6 13:20:11 (20626 reads)

 Hershey's Whoppers
There's a science to selling things. We all know this. In fact, if there wasn't a trick to moving merchandise, I wouldn't have a job.

Marketing 101 tells us that making an appealing product isn't good enough if you want to make money as well. You need to twist the consumer's arm to complete the sale. But what about after the sale has already been made? How do you get people to come back and buy more? That of course depends a great deal on the product itself, but the overall psychology is the same: make the consumer want the product, and make them want more as quickly as possible. That's a basic principle of supply and demand. Sales is directly related to scarcity. In other words, if there aren't enough Tickle Me Elmo's to go around, I "need" one that much more.

I recently bought a box of Hershey's Whoppers®. You know... malted milk balls. I'm a sucker for Hershey's chocolate of any kind, so there's no real science involved in getting me to buy these things. The psychology comes into play in getting me to buy them again and again at an ever-increasing rate. You see, there are new customers which are always nice, but then there are recurring customers which are the bread and butter of almost every successful company on this planet.

I noticed that my malted milk balls didn't have one of those handy little punch tabs that we're all used to seeing on just about everything that comes in a box. You know, the little tab that lets you reclose your box of cereal in the morning. Accident? Mistake preparing the die cut for this particular batch of candy? I don't think so. You see, I've been in this business far too long to see something like a missing tab on a cardboard box as an annoyance like most consumers. I see experimentation. I see a meeting with professionals discussing whether or not this "oversight" will increase sales. I see a box of candy I can't close constantly taunting me to have just one more piece. "Come on," the box tells me. "One more Whopper won't kill ya!" I see a sudden stop in traffic causing all of my nice little chocolate companions to plummet to to their deaths on the floor of my truck.

The psychology behind this packaging is quite simple. Get rid of the candy faster. Sell more candy. It's a subtle "mistake" that's actually a subtle sales ploy... and it's pure genius.

I need to go buy some more Whoppers.

Visit the
Whoppers site.

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2009/3/25 12:57:41 (20456 reads)

 Vintage SpaghettiOs - Classic SpaghettiOs

Food of the Gods

I used to like SpaghettiOs®. Any kid worth his salt loved them. Of course, somewhere along the way I lost my taste for soggy, canned pasta; but I remember just the same. Kids ate SpaghettiOs – PERIOD. It was the law. We all knew it. Somewhere in some forgotten land, like we had seen Charlton Heston emerge from with his cheaply painted wooden tablets for what seemed like a hundred times, the laws of kid-dom were etched in stone. At the very least, some worshiped older-kid-god had carved them mercilessly into the bark of some unsuspecting great oak with his grandfather's prized Old Timer.

The weird kids, the ones who blindly ate whatever their mothers had prepared for lunch, didn't get to savor those rare occasions when one meatball mysteriously entered the mix. They just didn’t grasp the true meaning of that.

SpaghettiOs meant defiance
– months of it. A good eighteen weeks of refusing peanut-butter and jelly or the endless barrage of Oscar-Mayer Mystery Loaf would ultimately lead frustrated mothers to the can. It was inevitable. We knew this; and only the aforementioned weird kids, who also wouldn't jump in Dad's freshly raked pile of leaves, would miss out.

To this day I still don't know if I ever actually liked the taste of SpaghettiOs. I do know that it didn't matter. It came in a can. It couldn’t possibly be good for me. To Mom it was this or let me starve, and that's where the pleasure came in. Taste-schmaste. Mom had submitted. SpaghettiOs meant we kids had taken over the world of lunch, and Bob Franco-American was our fearless leader.

As I got older and lost my taste for most foods with sauces of unexplained origin, SpaghettiOs eventually disappeared from my kitchen cabinets; but every now and then a can will mysteriously find its way home. Laughing mischievously at my unaware mother's expense, I savor each unappealing tasting spoonful… and smile.

©1997, 2009 Sven Skupien. All rights reserved. SpaghettiOs® CSC Brands LP.

Republished from my website of long ago, Svenhärd's Realm (started way back in 1994 when you had a really slow modem... if you were lucky). I don't need permission.  I wrote it.

Visit the SpaghettiOs website.

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