Thursday, May 26, 2016

"The Company Of Excellence"

“I love it when it’s good.” – Me.

Having championed this episode of the sitcom Lateline (co-created by John Markus and {now Senator} Al Franken), I find myself standing nervously outside a trailer, listening on headphones as a scene from it is being played out inside it.  The director calls, “Cut!’ and I contentedly exhale.  It had gone better than expected.

Much better.

The primary character in that scene is played by actor Peter Riegert (star of one of my favorite movies, Local Hero.)  As Riegert exits the trailer and descends the steps to the pavement, I smilingly approach him and say,

“Whenever something I’ve written turns out better than I imagined – the actor getting everything out of the material and then some – I am reminded of all of the other times when it didn’t.”

(Note:  Those were not my exact words, which I did not transcribe at the time, unaware that I would be quoting myself some seventeen or so years down the line.  Besides, when a perfectly-articulated pronouncement emerges spontaneously, you can no more reproduce it precisely than whoever makes them can reproduce a snowflake.  That’s why no two of them are ever alike.  Your entire concentration goes into the invention, and there is nothing left for remembering how you did it.)  

Now…

I realize, with no little embarrassment, that a lot of the time, I write about show business in negative terms, causing the reader to perhaps wonder why I ever went into it in the first place.  It would appear, judging by my recorded anecdotes, that I almost never enjoyed myself. 

I did.  Though I found it bordering on unbearably stressful. 

“But there were some things you liked about it, weren’t there?”

There were a lot of things I liked about it, Blue Italics Words Person. 

“Then how come you never write about them?”

I don’t know.  Maybe I think the “complainy” stories are more interesting.  Or maybe I think chronicling the travails I surmounted make me appear more heroic.  Or maybe it’s just the way I naturally see things.  Plus – and this is going to sound crazy – maybe I believe that if I dwell on the difficult parts of a business at which I succeeded and others didn’t, that those “others” will perhaps be less angry at me because it was terrible.

I told you it was going to sound crazy.

Anyway…

Show business wasn’t all terrible.  And one of my favorite parts of it was…

I loved it when it was good.

Like Peter Riegert’s performance in that trailer. 

And what I saw recently on television.

(And overly extended setup?  To me, it was exactly the right length.)

Mom may be the only current half-hour comedy I feel I could successfully contribute to.  Meaning nothing at all.  I’m just saying.  It is also recommendably worth watching.

Mom, involving two generations – and possibly three – of addicts, reaches occasionally for easy laughs and “below the belt” implications – arguably the easiest laugh of them all – but it rarely abandons its inherent “darkness” in favor of comforting punch lines.

It also has some gifted participants – spearheaded by Allison Janney, with Anna Faris, Mimi Kennedy and Jaime Pressly in admirable support. 

These skilful comedians get the most out of their dialogue, offering “colors” and nuances to often uneven material.  (In series television, not every episode can be a gem.  Even Seinfeld did “The Bizarro Episode”. “That was my favorite episode!”   Yeah, like I didn’t know that was coming.)

I switch to Mom for no explainable reason and I run into a performance that dazzles my impulses and warmens my heart.

The episode’s guest star is (Tony Award-winning) Linda Lavin.

I watch her performance in wonderment and awe.  (You could detect her co-workers responding in similar fashion.  They seem to be acting and taking notes at the same time.)

How to describe a post-graduate lesson in sitcomical artistry?

Pointed but recognizably human.  Briskly paced, yet impeccably patient.  A hardly groundbreaking line like,

“You know when it get easier being a mother?  When she’s dead.”

The woman totally “nailed it”.  I watched it over and over on ON DEMAND.  The delivery was exquisitely timed, and brilliantly matter-of-factly.  Not too angry; not too self-pitying, not too jokey, honoring the truthfulness of the “moment”.  My description is inadequate here.  All I can say is, like the perfect golf swing, it made precisely the right sound.    

And the inevitable “Heartfelt Moment”:  It was genuinely touching.  I’m thinking, “Look at me.  I am ‘tearing up’ at a  sitcom! That’s how unbelievable she was.  Elevating the clichéd “long-suffer mother” to “You just can’t take your eyes off her.”

And all of it on television.  Where you get it for nothing.

When I witness a consummate professional like Linda Lavin getting everything out of the material and then some, I am reminded of what drew me to that “fakakhta” business in the first place.
 
And I am reminded to tell you.

Those sparkling surprises made up for a lot of what I had to put up with along the way.


And sometimes I forget to remember them.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

"I Went To A Bernie Sanders Rally"

Sometimes history comes right up to your doorstep.

Well maybe it doesn’t.  I just like that as an opening sentence. 

Although it pretty much did the day before yesterday (May the 23rd) when it was reported in the paper that a Bernie Sanders (California primary) political rally would held Santa Monica High School, about four blocks from my house. 

When it’s that close, you kind have to check it out.  (Any further, however, and I ‘d have given it a pass.  I have a “four-block radius” for “historical happenstance”.  If I’d have lived a mile from the Battle of Gettysburg, I’d have said, “I’ll read about it in the newspapers, and gone back to my napping, cursing that confounded cannonading.)

The “doors opened” at four – it was outside, so no actual doors – but, driving in that direction on her way to work, Dr. M informed me that people were already lining up at three.  So I prepared to depart.  (It sounds like trek up the Ulangi River.  I was just walking to the corner.)

I grabbed a “restaurant leftover” half a turkey sandwich wrapped in silver foil from the refrigerator and I placed it in my pocket.  I bought a bottle of Fiji water from the nearby convenience store, which I also slipped into my pocket, along with my Kindle (to read while I was waiting), my wallet, my keys and my cellphone, which I brought not to call people but to keep track of the time.  (I use my cellphone considerably more as a watch than as a communication devise.) 

My pockets were really full. 

When I arrived at 3:13 – I checked my cellphone – the line had already turned the corner, as I did as well, making my way at the end of it.  Where I experienced an immediate mishap.

Noticing a low brick bench along the wall encircling the high school, I went over to sit down, not noticing that there was a slight “drop” between the sidewalk to the seating area, and I immediately turned my ankle.  Someone asked me if I was okay, to which I tentatively responded, “I don’t know yet.”

By the way, that’s the last person who spoke to me for four hours, when the second and final person complained, “You’re blocking my view.”  If you’re looking for random quotes, that is all you are going to get.  The crowd was friendly, but not to me.

Snaking snail-like along the sidewalk – to mix two belly-crawling metaphors – the line reached the grounds of the high school in two-and-a-half hours.  (You had to really want to get in.  Or have no life as I do, so you have nowhere to be.)  Along the way, seeming partisans hawked t-shirts and campaign buttons.  I was tempted to inquire “Where does the money go?” but I was afraid I’d hear, “To me, asshole!” so I didn’t.

As befits a Bernie Sanders political rally, the crowd was skewed around the edges, seventy-five percent of them under thirty, and twenty percent of them over sixty.  The ones in the middle were chaperoning young children, offering an educational “field trip” in cultural awareness. 

The older contingent was in reliable “Hippie Mode”.  One wore a vintage tie-dyed t-shirt saying, “Wage Peace”, another saying, “Unfuck The World.”  They seemed noticeably relieved.  Finally, they had a candidate matching their wardrobe.

Reaching “Security”, we had to empty our pockets, which in my case took some time.  When the Security Guard saw my sandwich, he said, concerning the encasing silver foil, “That’s metal.  That can’t go in.”

Fearing confiscation of my half a sandwich, I immediately unwrapped it, returning my now bare turkey sandwich into my pocket.  Unfortunately, it was liberally slathered with Russian dressing.  Making the loose change in there noticeably sticky.

I saw seats up front, but I was prohibited from getting there.  My reflexive reaction: “Yeah, even Socialists have ‘VIP Lists’.”  I later discovered that the reserved seats were for handicapped attendees. 

Oops.

I wound up standing at the front of an area that would later have thousands of people crammed in behind me, which was fortuitous, because I had a clear view of the podium, and if I had been sardined in the middle of thousands of tightly packed people, my intense claustrophobia would have kicked in and I’d have been compelled me to run home.  Or remain, surrounded, and freak out.

After some canned sixties-ish music, there were some preliminary speakers, the most exciting for me being Dick Van Dyke.  The guy’s ninety.  Apparently nobody told his body.

A woman standing beside me held a handmade cardboard sign reading “Bern Down For What”.  Literally dozens of camera folk and photographers came to take pictures of it.  Their attention reinforced my position as “The Clueless Outsider.”  Everyone believed the sign to be noteworthy, and I had no idea what it meant.  (Did I ask her?  No.  She seemed so pleased with her handiwork I was reluctant to intrude.)

My self-perceived “out-of-syncness” was confirmed moments later.

A violinist played the National Anthem.  And virtually no one sang along.  Except me.  I sang quietly, but I sang.  It was like, to this crowd, “National Anthem” equals patriotism equals Viet Nam War equals bad.  I was sad about that.  They had surrendered “love of country” to their adversaries.

Finally, Bernie Sanders came out, white hair flying in the breeze, blue-collar shirtsleeves rolled to the elbows.  The crowd loved him.  Bernie was the “Outspoken Grandpa”, making the parents look compromising and weak. 

Who doesn’t want their parents set in their place?

“Rock Star” Bernie treated his audience to his “Greatest Hits” playlist.  The crowd adored it.  And why not?

“Free college tuition.”

“Refinancing college loan debt at a lower rate.”

“I will legalize marijuana.”

“And I will get you a girlfriend.”

That last one is made up.  But if it wasn’t, it would have fit right in.

Bernie Sanders is passionate and committed.  A spellbinding speaker, he ain’t.  Nor a great speechwriter.  On a least four occasions, he would drumroll an issue, and then say, “Here’s what I’d do about it.  Two things.”  It was always “Two things.”  I read a number of Lincoln’s speeches.  Lincoln never said “Two things.”  He said one thing.  And said it eloquently. 

It was almost like… “We don’t need no stinkin’ badges”?  This was, “We don’t need no stinkin’ oratory!”  As if well-crafted speeches equals manipulative equals “old politics” equals bad.

Bernie Sanders spoke for an hour-and-a-half, never once saying anything I had not heard before (or that his audience wouldn’t like.  Nor, to my surprise, did he solicit donations.)  After an hour, stopping only to cheer one of his familiar promises, the crowd began milling around and talking amongst themselves, seemingly less interested in the candidate than in possible hookups after the event.

The rally ended at eight fifty-seven, five hours and forty-four minutes after I had arrived.  I was proud of myself.  I had stood (virtually) the whole time on a swollen ankle.  And not once did I feel the necessity to pee.

The crowd was definitely enthusiastic.   (Although hardly explosive.)  They wanted to tear it all down.  I like a lot of it the way it is.  I just wish it worked the way it is supposed to.

Will I vote for Bernie Sanders in the primary?  I will, because I agree with him about most things.  (And he reminds me of some of my counselors.)  I do not, however, want Bernie Sanders as the nominee.  There is madness on the other side.  And “seasoned and sensible” has a better chance of defeating it than ”socialist and irate.”

I hope.

Anyway I am glad I attended the rally.

Hey, I had to.


It was just up the street.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

"... Aaaaand It's Back"

And it has been for some time.

Ideas and concepts never seem to totally die.  Including the bad ones.  But I won’t write about that today.  Or possibly ever.  Because no matter how bad those ideas are, somebody thinks they’re terrific and then I’m in trouble.  Feel free, however, to think of your own examples of ideas that never totally die (“Creationism” “Supply-side economics” – just priming the pump) and we’ll leave it at that.

As for me, I shall focus of attention to television.  “Informative yet harmless.”

Let’s go!  (Proclaims a Founding Member of Wimps ‘R Us.)

During the early years of televised sitcomality, half-hour comedies were filmed like truncated movies – the short story versus the novel, offering both entities unearned elevation.  (As Mel Brooks emphatically opined when I once interviewed him decades ago, “Best is a book.  Why?  Because a book does not have ‘Herman Shumlin Presents’ in the front of it.  Translation:  A book is “all you.”)

“Filmed like a movie” means that a single camera is employed to record the action, followed by subsequent “takes” – known professionally as “coverage” – in which the same scene is re-shot from various angles, distances and points of view.  (And probably other reasons I don’t know anything about.)  Depending on time and budget, you can shoot the same scene dozens different ways, and then “mix and match” the completed footage later in “Editing”.  

This is similarly what they did – at least in a limited version – when they shot sitcoms.  Why did they do it that way?  Because the half-hour comedies were produced by movie studios and that’s the way movie studios did things.  They already had the cameras and the expertise, so why not? 

(Note:  On Best of the West, I had a Director of Photography who, under more auspicious circumstances, had once collaborated with Alfred Hitchcock.  When I wrote in a script: “Int. Cabin – Dusk”, the gentleman judiciously set me straight, saying,  “We’ve got ‘Day’ and we’ve got ‘Night’.  That’s it.”) 

The “single-camera” format itself did not make the content bland and innocuous.  That was the networks’ – and their overseers, the sponsors’ – handiwork.  The primary objective back then was to please the largest possible viewership, making the controlling “Corporate Powers” err consistently on the side of “tapioca”.  It wasn’t censorship, exactly.  (Although, effectively, it was.)  Overhanging the creative process was the admonishing warning, “We’ll get letters.”  (Implying no risk-taking “encouragement letters” saying, “Stop boring us.”)   

The consequent result:  Father Knows Best, The Donna Reed Show, My Favorite Martian, and Mr. Ed (a talking horse who could offend no one, since, if there was an actual talking horse in the audience, what were the chances they could not only talk but also write?)

An expanding “wrinkle” in the sitcom filming process was the introduction of the “multiple-camera” process, purportedly invented by bandleader Desi Arnaz, allowing his then genius/spouse Lucille Ball could work her comedic artistry in front of a live studio audience. 

You can understandably not include a “live studio audience” when filming “single-camera”.  Shooting the same scenes over and over in front of them would inevitably dull their enthusiasm, dampening their willingness to laugh.  That’s if the shows were funny in the first place, which, with the exception of Leave It To Beaver, beyond tepid chuckles, they weren’t.

During the sixties, technological advancement delivered videotape, which was cheaper than film for reasons too tedious to go into, in which, again, numerous cameras ran simultaneously, the “booth-anchored” director editing the consequent “coverage” on the fly. 

“Tape” was generally the “medium of choice” of independent production companies:  Norman Lear (All In the Family, Good Times, Maude), Witt-Thomas (The Golden Girls, Blossom), the guys who produced What’s Happening?  Not being film studios, the companies had to rent their equipment, and, their eyes cast assiduously on the “bottom line”, their “medium of preference” was understandably tape. 

Being the cheaper alternative, videotape threatened to drive “filmed” comedies out of existence.  Although some independent production companies like “The Mary Tyler Moore Company” remained loyal to “film”, because that was their original reputation, and besides, the finished videotaped product “looked like a game show” – The Price Is Right, with punch lines.  Or so they haughtily asserted. 

Filmed comedy was given “The Last Rites.” 


And it has been for some time.

Ideas and concepts never seem to totally die.  Including the bad ones.  But I won’t write about that today.  Or possibly ever.  Because no matter how bad those ideas are, somebody thinks they’re terrific and then I’m in trouble.  Feel free, however, to think of your own examples of ideas that never totally die (“Creationism” “Supply-side economics” – just priming the pump) and we’ll leave it at that.

As for me, I shall focus of attention to television.  “Informative yet harmless.”

Let’s go!  (Proclaims a Founding Member of Wimps ‘R Us.)

During the early years of televised sitcomality, half-hour comedies were filmed like truncated movies – the short story versus the novel, offering both entities unearned elevation.  (As Mel Brooks emphatically opined when I once interviewed him decades ago, “Best is a book.  Why?  Because a book does not have ‘Herman Shumlin Presents’ in the front of it.  Translation:  A book is “all you.”)

“Filmed like a movie” means that a single camera is employed to record the action, followed by subsequent “takes” – known professionally as “coverage” – in which the same scene is re-shot from various angles, distances and points of view.  (And probably other reasons I don’t know anything about.)  Depending on time and budget, you can shoot the same scene dozens different ways, and then “mix and match” the completed footage later in “Editing”.  

This is similarly what they did – at least in a limited version – when they shot sitcoms.  Why did they do it that way?  Because the half-hour comedies were produced by movie studios and that’s the way movie studios did things.  They already had the cameras and the expertise, so why not? 

(Note:  On Best of the West, I had a Director of Photography who, under more auspicious circumstances, had once collaborated with Alfred Hitchcock.  When I wrote in a script: “Int. Cabin – Dusk”, the gentleman judiciously set me straight, saying,  “We’ve got ‘Day’ and we’ve got ‘Night’.  That’s it.”) 

The “single-camera” format itself did not make the content bland and innocuous.  That was the networks’ – and their overseers, the sponsors’ – handiwork.  The primary objective back then was to please the largest possible viewership, making the controlling “Corporate Powers” err consistently on the side of “tapioca”.  It wasn’t censorship, exactly.  (Although, effectively, it was.)  Overhanging the creative process was the admonishing warning, “We’ll get letters.”  (Implying no risk-taking “encouragement letters” saying, “Stop boring us.”)   

The consequent result:  Father Knows Best, The Donna Reed Show, My Favorite Martian, and Mr. Ed (a talking horse who could offend no one, since, if there was an actual talking horse in the audience, what were the chances they could not only talk but also write?)

An expanding “wrinkle” in the sitcom filming process was the introduction of the “multiple-camera” process, purportedly invented by bandleader Desi Arnaz, allowing his then genius/spouse Lucille Ball could work her comedic artistry in front of a live studio audience. 

You can understandably not include a “live studio audience” when filming “single-camera”.  Shooting the same scenes over and over in front of them would inevitably dull their enthusiasm, dampening their willingness to laugh.  That’s if the shows were funny in the first place, which, with the exception of Leave It To Beaver, beyond tepid chuckles, they weren’t.

During the sixties, technological advancement delivered videotape, which was cheaper than film for reasons too tedious to go into, in which, again, numerous cameras ran simultaneously, the “booth-anchored” director editing the consequent “coverage” on the fly. 

“Tape” was generally the “medium of choice” of independent production companies:  Norman Lear (All In the Family, Good Times, Maude), Witt-Thomas (The Golden Girls, Blossom), the guys who produced What’s Happening?  Not being film studios, the companies had to rent their equipment, and, their eyes cast assiduously on the “bottom line”, their “medium of preference” was understandably tape. 

Being the cheaper alternative, videotape threatened to drive “filmed” comedies out of existence.  Although some independent production companies like “The Mary Tyler Moore Company” remained loyal to “film”, because that was their original reputation, and besides, the finished videotaped product “looked like a game show” – The Price Is Right, with punch lines.  Or so they haughtily asserted. 

Filmed comedy was given “The Last Rites.” 

Now look what’s back.  In format, if not in content.

Owing to “digital” technology, which is ostensibly – what do I know? – as cost-effective as “tape” was, the maligned and abandoned “single-camera” comedy has returned with a vengeance.  Videotaped production, which once threatened to “run the table”, is history.  As, with pockets of exceptions, is “multiple-camera” filming, which is both stylistically out of fashion and more expensive.  (Renting one camera costs less than renting four of them.)

You might believe – and I have – that the popularity of “single-camera” can be understood as being more in sync with today’s show runners’ heroes deriving less from the theater (videotape, in particular, was more amenable to “proscenium-like” presentation) than from cinema.  (Think: Judd Apatow and his self-savvy roster of characters.)

But the “single-camera” preference could just as easily be explained by “What’s cheapest?” 

It’s interesting, don’t you think?  The nature of an entire genre of entertainment being determined not by “creative enthusiasm” but by financial advantageousness?  (In America?  Really?)

An added bonus with “single-camera” over “multi-camera” productions:

Reduced network interference.

Why?  (In contrast to network executives attending numerous “multi-camera” runthroughs, offering subsequent “script notes.”)

NETWORK EXECUTIVE:  “We’d like to talk to you about Page 15.”

“SINGLE-CAMERA” SHOW RUNNER:  “We shot that yesterday.”

Thank you, “digital technology”. 

I may not know how it works. 

But I know what it prevents. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

"Is The Concept of 'Worth It' Worth Anything?"

Since my current dietary preference leans towards gluten-free comestibles, I have taken a particular liking to “Enjoy Life Crunchy Flax” breakfast cereal.  True to its name, unlike gluten-free “Quaker Puffed Rice”, among others, “Enjoy Life Crunchy Flax” breakfast cereal stands up stalwartly to almond milk – I am also trying to be “dairy free” – remaining vibrantly crunchy during the almondy onslaught.

I like that – “almondy onslaught.”  Good thing I don’t drink soy milk.

Anyway…

Recently, the one store where I could buy “Enjoy Life Crunchy Flax” breakfast cereal abruptly stopped carrying it, meaning, I was cut off from my favorite cereal, relegated to my distant second favorite, “Rice Chex”, whose ability to withstand almond milk is hopelessly pathetic.

VICTORIUS ALMOND MILK:  Awright!!!

What about Flax Cereal?

VICTORIOUS ALMOND MILK:  (SMIRKING) “You can’t buy that anymore.”

Since I despise inanimate alternate milk products getting the last word, I accessed the Internet to see if I could purchase “Enjoy Life Crunchy Flax” breakfast cereal directly.  And, of course, since everything is available on the Internet – I bought a case of Manischewitz Memorial Candles on the Internet – I found it.

But there was a catch.

The minimum “purchase order” was twelve boxes of “Enjoy Life Crunchy Flax” breakfast cereal.  Which is a daunting amount of the same breakfast cereal.  More importantly, the Internet “asking price” for the twelve-box order of “Enjoy Life Crunchy Flax” breakfast cereal was one hundred eighty-eight dollars.

Which – I did the math earlier – is more than fifteen dollars a box.

Though hardly an assiduous “price checker”, I intuitively realized that that was a lot.  But just to be sure – and since no effort is too great in the service of my readers – I put my shoes on and I went across the street to the nearby convenience store to see what they were charging for a comparable ouncage of breakfast cereal.

The price was four ninety-nine.

That’s at a convenience store, not a discount supermarket.  They’ve got a banner outside: 

“We rip you off, but we’re convenient.” 

I made the immediate calculation:  Fifteen-plus dollars versus four ninety-nine.  Quoting a line from A League of Their Own,

“That would be more then, wouldn’t it.”

So what do I do?

I want the “Enjoy Life Crunchy Flax” breakfast cereal.  I have the financial wherewithal to pay for it.  But the “asking price” is exorbitant.  My tentative decision on the purchase:

It’s not worth it.

The question then is,

What does that mean?

Paying for overpriced “Enjoy Life Crunchy Flax” breakfast cereal is not going to “break the bank.”  Still, my instinctive response the requisite charge for this product is an incensed, “Are you kidding me?”

At this point, I am aware of veering dangerously close to “Grumpy Old Men” territory. 

“When I was a kid, a hotdog was a dime and we could ride the street car (electronic trolley) for three cents!”

I have exaggerated these numbers for comedic purposes… No, wait!  I didn’t.

“Weltz’s Delicatessen”, near my elementary school, sold hotdogs for a dime.  There was a deli across the street that sold hotdogs for fifteen cents whose name I do not remember because I never went there because they sold hotdogs for fifteen cents.  Plus, we were restricted from crossing the street.

Still…

Fifty percent more for the same hotdog?  Why would anybody eat there?  People in limousines, throwing money out the window…

I’m stopping before some young person excoriates me with merciless derision.

The question remains, however, even for that deriding young person:

“How much is ‘too much’?”  Or, worded otherly:

“When is it appropriate to consider a service or commodity to be indisputably ‘not worthy it’?”

FREE MARKET CAPITALIST:  “Never.”

“The ‘value’ of a service or commodity is what the ‘free market place’ is willing to pay for it.”

Really?  The “AM-PM” minimart chain – there is an outlet four-and-a-half blocks from my house – announced that it is beginning to sell “Dodger Dogs” – the same hotdogs they sell at Dodger Stadium – at an “introductory offer” price of six dollars a hotdog.

I paid a dime!

Sorry, I’ll be careful.  Still, allow me the investigation.  Thank you.

What makes prices go up? 

The conventional answer is,

“Inflation.”

And what exactly is inflation?

“‘Inflation’ is when the prices go up.”

Okay, so we just went in a circle.  The prices go up because of inflation, and “‘inflation” is when “the prices go up”.  Let me try that again.

Why do the prices go up?  (And, except for gas prices, never ultimately go down?)

“When the ‘cost of doing business’ goes up, the increased expenses are passed along to the consumer through elevated prices.”

Fair enough.  But why does the “cost of doing business” go up?

“Inflation.”

“Third base.” *  (* Reference to the classic comedy routine “Who’s On First?”, where you inevitably arrive at the same place.)

There is something disturbingly unsatisfying about this avenue of inquiry.  Perhaps in retrospect, the “Free Market Capitalist” was correct.  Prices are based on what the proverbial “consumer” is willing to shell out, and that’s it.

You want “Enjoy Life Crunchy Flax” breakfast cereal – you make a private evaluation predicated on desire, available resources, and an indefinable “third thing” commonly verbalized as,

“Fifteen dollars for that?

You do your personal computation.  Then, you either do it, or you don’t.

Truth be told, I am figuratively torn asunder by this crunchy flax cereal dilemma.  There are some days I think,

“I’ll just go for it.”

Then I think, “It’s not worth it”, and I don’t.

And that’s where you find me – refusing to pull the trigger on fifteen-dollar-a-box cereal, swallowing wilted-in-almond-milk Rice Chex, and cursing inflation.


Which I do not even understand.