Experience

Overkill

It’s a habit of mine to just scroll down the Facebook news feed to see what everyone else is talking about, laughing out loud about or pissed about. A friend shared about the unequal stature of Ricoa’s Flat Tops and Curly Tops. One friend shared a Cheech and Chong meme that showed before and after photos; the pot head looked better, if not the best, than the alcoholic, crack addict and a needle-dependent man. Facebook sometimes has gems of thought floating around in cyberspace.

What really caught my eye today was a rant about  “ARTISANAL.” I’ve noticed this word grow in popularity in food products and food joints and I noticed that it was sort of rare for someone in my network to rant about about this one. I found on my friend’s post a comment that said “Artis-anal.” I guess putting the word there just became anal practice for people promoting a particular product. My friend has a strong point that it shouldn’t be like a sticker on everything to make them special.

Anyway, this amazing marketing buzzword comes from extending the word “ARTISAN” into an adjective. A quick check with Merriam-Webster gives us this:

ar·ti·san

noun \ˈär-tə-zən, -sən, chiefly Britishˌär-tə-ˈzan\

: a person who is skilled at making things by hand

 Full Definition of ARTISAN
1
:  a worker who practices a trade or handicraft : craftsperson
2
:  one that produces something (as cheese or wine) in limited quantities often using traditional methods
ar·ti·san·al adjective
ar·ti·san·ship noun

In my mind, if everyone is an artisan, artist or a freaking Da Vinci with a golden spatula or a mixer or a hammer, then how could all these things be “special.” A classic case is a pizza joint that makes you choose ingredients to have them run through their oven. I guess the customer is the artisan and the place lends you their oven. Well, good for the customer in a feel-so-good moment. Extending the use of the word, that “dirty” ice cream you see on the street is sort of  “artisanal” in nature because they’re made in a traditional manner, too. It’s just a case of timing that the pushcart people didn’t know what to call their product before; the market auto-piloted itself into calling that stuff “dirty” next to packaged ice cream found in supermarkets.

What’s my issue with the word? It’s simply this: overusing a word kind of cheapens what you want to have if everyone else is saying it. Where’s the premium in that? I guess buzzwords form that shortcut in a customer’s brain. But if it’s everywhere, it shouts “everything artisanal is available,” and then the law of supply and demand takes over…I think.

My one cent of brain power suggests: I guess people can practice a bit of caution in choosing words to describe a product they intend to take to market. Caution much more when you directly incorporate it with your brand. When the fad word dies, your product could go with it. Imagine changing a bunch of stuff just for one word. I mean, that’s okay if you’re out to market something co-terminus.

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Overkill. I mean, is marketing and advertising campaigns now ruled by overkill? If I happen to turn on TV, almost every advertisement of a company, soap, shampoo, fabric conditioner has song and dance in them. Like, even deodorant has a “pa-simple” move and shampoo’s all about checking your hair.  Personally, I find them entertaining. Just that. After the novelty wears off, I find them irritating. But did the ad entice me to buy or try?  NO. I can freely say that because I do shopping for our household. This man has a say on the dishwashing liquid, laundry detergent, and almost everything else. I must be the most boring man on planet earth. My wife and I actually have rational discussions during supermarket trips. I scan the shelves for old and new products, and read labels, too. I try to be a rational consumer as much as possible, I TRY to be.  I guess I’m just tired of singing and dancing to the ads myself.

***

Another overused thing is the emo-angle to those ads. It’s amazing that there’s an emotional connection with all the brands we all use. If you look at it closely, even toilet paper has a strong connection with a person. Nothing builds a bond like a strong need, imho. Goodness, and diarrhea can be a relationship killer if you play along with an ad.

I also got tired of the overplayed guitar jingle with the female singer by a very popular fast food burger place. At first the voice was sort of soothing, then it got irritating because of overplay. I like the voice and all, but the singing style just got to me. Couple that with dissatisfaction with the actual products that ad promotes.

***

Whenever we trust ads so much, as consumers, aren’t we limiting ourselves? Aren’t we forgetting that products are supposed to do something for you other than just that emotional tug at your heart strings? A good case are the pictures up on the fast food menu boards. As I write this, there’s probably one customer at a fast food restaurant that just said “What the F is this?” after he got a deflated burger and compared it with the one in the picture.

So what’s that thing that products supposed to meet, anyway? That’s do it’s job: clean whatever; fill you up; get rid of dandruff without thinking of a blizzard alert if you head a football.

***

As an aside, I do check labels. But what’s with the way they’re presented? Some are just too small. I don’t know if the same companies plan to start selling reading glasses, too. Is the devil really in the details?

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Heads Up!

A strange thing happened this evening.  People suddenly took a pause to admire the moon and its halo.  The usual stream of what-I-had-for-dinner photos and selfies got bumped off by the nearest celestial body.  According to scientists and the Philippine weather service (PAGASA), the halo is from the reflection of light from the ice crystals in the air, or something to that effect.  In olden days, some would just say that the lunar light show is an omen, a sign of bad things to come.  I’ll take the positive awe over the negative “hell, no.”

and it shines like a living hymn (image via InterAksyon.com)

The moon sure has enough stopping power, either when it’s a big bright Full Moon, which I howl at, or when there is a unique phenomenon that occurs with it.  I’m sure glad that nature can still shut people up with a freebie beauty show treat rather than shutting them up with a fear-inducing display of power courtesy of storms and quakes.  Nature gave us a free show.  Great!

Tonight’s show, I’ll take it as a reminder of how small we really are in this world.  It could also be a reminder of how some things are beautiful by default.  It also serves up the question:  Why do people always have to complicate things when there is beauty in simplicity?  That’s a question best answered over a few rounds of…something meant for a different writeup.

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A Pinoy Drunkard’s Take on Resolutions for 2014

As part of my 2014 resolutions, I’ll be having less of the non-meaningful drinking sessions with friends.  Gone are the shallow discussions.

That means, for 2014, there would be more of the drinking sessions featuring key discussions focused on:

1) The meaning of life and other philosophical discourses. .

2) The multiverse, inter-dimensional travel and the potential of time travel.

3) Ending world hunger

4) Finding the missing link between apes and humans.

5) Fixing the Philippines through out of the box solutions that have a snowball’s chance in hell of ever seeing daylight.  We can start off with coming up with the national treadmill/dynamo electricity generating machine for the unemployed and morbidly obese.

6) “Statistical analysis” (officially replacing the sports and boobs topic from previous years)

7) Family “bests” (officially replacing “wala yan sa lolo ko” or “my grandpa is better than your grandpa”)

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Seriously, I plan on exercising daily — both mind and body.  I’ll try do a regular exercise routine and try to update this blog on a daily basis.   Planning and trying is already worth 50% the effort.

An Argument for a Philippine Mega Bomb for New Year’s Eve Celebrations

Pinoys love a show and there’s no better evidence than our annual war zone celebration — New Year’s Eve!  Every year, we get to have loud bangs from firecrackers, mixed in with a bit of added gunfire to fill the evening.  Mix that in with a sprinkling of alcohol induced stupidity and we have a superb deadly party!

Gunfire, stray bullets killing people.  I guess gravity is one of the less than well-received lessons in school for some people.  Appealing to these dumbasses won’t do much.  They can’t even appreciate gravity and accept the fact that there’s no handgun, yet, that can propel a bullet to reach escape velocity.  As of this writing, I think there are already some victims of stray bullets coming from indiscriminate discharging of firearms into the air.  Last year, some kids died from those stray bullets.  I pray that the dudes who fired those weapons last year won’t fire their guns again this coming December 31st.  If they do fire those things, I hope they won’t hit anyone this time.

Firecrackers, loud noises and bangs, that’s a from a borrowed Chinese tradition of scaring away evil spirits.  Less evil spirits, less bad luck,  But hey, when people accidentally die from these explosives, aren’t we adding to the restless spirits that roam the night?  That’s if you believe in restless spirits.  I am sure dogs and cats won’t appreciate the explosions, though.  And one more thing, with all explosives we’ve set off over the years, I think the evil spirits have already circumnavigated the globe and are actually on their on their way back here.  So, good luck with that.

Just a quickie thought, why don’t we just invest in a giant bomb to drop like the New Year’s Ball in New York?  That way, we meet the quota of dead people and loud noises in one mega drop.  That’s the ka-boom we’ll remember for one year.

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A Few Words (on The End)

A friend of mine is coming home from Africa to help out in the Typhoon Yolanda relief efforts.  Her family has its roots in one of the hardest-hit provinces in Central Philippines.  I felt in the Force that it was only a matter of time that she’d finally decide to do that, since she’s already a humanitarian volunteer in her current country of residence.  From what I’ve come to know about her, she’s one who’s built to do that kind of thing — joining non-profits and cause-oriented groups that help out those in need.  I admire that in her, and those who do that kind of job.  Plus, she’s one of the top graduates of the public school we both came from.

(I hope my friend enjoyed reading that part since I gave her the link to this blog.)

Seriously speaking, do we always set out to leave a lasting imprint or a lasting memory with those who we come across with in our lives?  Maybe there are those who WANT greatness and use that as motivation to do the right thing.   Maybe there are those who unconsciously achieve success, as measured by their own reasonable standards, by consciously doing the right thing regardless of what happens to him or her.  I guess it would all depend on what kind of person one is.  In the end, there would always be an accounting of what a person did with the life he or she had.

I think politicians start off as the kind of person I described last but eventually end up as the first type of person I wrote about.  I guess those who want to do great things for other people should, at all cost, stay away from politics.

As for accounting of one’s deeds, I can only cringe at how Sen. Miriam and Sen. JPE recently went at it in the Philippine Senate.  It somehow gave off that Spy vs Spy of Mad Magazine vibe, but I’ll probably write about that in a different blog entry, or not.

I had previously read a passage, I forgot which one, on being judged by one’s works.  I guess my friend would be the kindhearted lady who shot straight in pool, had a decent smash in badminton and took her Red Horse beer with a straw.  She’s a badass in her own right.

(I’d better have great pasalubong after that one. Kidding)

My friend would probably send me a message later, telling me that I am an “adik.”  That word would probably sum up my person, someone addicted to living.  Could be an epitaph for a future gravestone if I don’t end up cremated.

It can read:

“Here lies Brian.  He was addicted to living.  After he died, he suffered a great withdrawal from it.”