Been & Going

[Lessons From The TV People] The Carbonaro Effect

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Much to my dismay, The Carbonaro Effect is not The Carbonara Effect and no pasta was involved. Yes, in all seriousness, I thought it was a cooking show until I read the description. Something about how a guy makes bubbles into glass ornaments and fools customers. Intriguing but I was apparently really hungry and wanted to look at pasta boiling. But I recorded it and sat down this morning to watch it. This dude is a magician who does sleight of hand stuff LFTTVP-CEbubble1to fool people in a hidden camera show. He’s good. I would have believed the bubble into glass ornament thing, I’m not going to lie. But the gray goo that becomes a live frog when you pulse a light over it? Not so much. The big question in mind would be, “Should I call him out?” Or should I go with it and ask him to cure my ailments? The only correct response would be to scream, “DEVIL!” and run out of the store.

I didn’t even mention how he convinced customers that a goldfish sticker becomes a real one when you put it in water. Only $.25 each. This woman wanted ten of them. My question to her is, “yeah, they’re only a quarter each but what the hell are you going to do with ten live goldfish?” Does she want extras soLFTTVP-CEbubble she never has to teach her kids about death? This is all conjecture since instead she will return super-pissed to the store demanding her quarters back when it doesn’t work. Then it is “ha ha, you were made a fool of on TV! Here’s your $2.50.”

This is where I admit that I live in fear of hidden camera shows. Living in LA, you have a greater chance of it happening to you because they are cheap shows and why make them more expensive by leaving Southern California? So if a checkout person asks me an unusual question, I start looking around for cameras. Like that time I went to a CVS in a different town and was told that they no longer give out plastic bags. My CVS still gave out bags. Why do this to an innocent woman? I WILL NOT SIGN YOUR TV RELEASE.

Turns out, it was town policy. I had to carry out my stuff in my arms.

Later Carbonaro was in a gym posing as a trainer and doing nutty stuff to fool the gym rats. He’s one of those “I can levitate” magicians and tried to get a guy to do that as part of his training. One of two things is happening at this point: LFFTVP-CEcaryou are either trying to levitate yourself or you’re assuming that I tried to do it. You’d be wrong on that second part. I just woke up. Standing on the ground was tough enough. Levitating would take a drink or two.

Carbonaro also convinces a gym dude that he had a can of Spray Towel. He sprays the foam into his hand and then sleight-of-hand! it becomes a towel. He sprays again and blows into his hand to “make” a sock. Kind of handy. Spray Clothes would delay going to the laundromat for a bit.

The final segment was a fake raffle prize set up. Carbonaro “won” a car in a raffle and an unsuspecting guy has to sign it out to him. Carbonaro “forgets” his ticket and walks home to get it. The poor security guy watches him go and then turns around and the car is gone. He freaks. Curses a bit as he should. Then Carbonaro drives up in the car. “You’re on a hidden camera show!” Security guy takes out his gun and—OK that last part didn’t happen. But we don’t see the outtakes so…

Actually the guy had a good sense of humor and took it well.


You can see Mike Carbonaro exploit gullible people on TRU TV.

But you won’t see me. I WILL REMEMBER HIS FACE.

[Desert Droppings] inDIGESTable News

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A few weeks ago, there appeared on my iPad, an app called Yahoo News Digest. Every morning and evening, I receive a message that my News Digest is “ready to read” and swipety-swipe, I can get brief, bland picture and video clip- filled News accounts in several disconnected areas of media coverage- world news, US news, politics, business, technology, sports, etc. Some Yahoo staffer Desert-100114-yahoohas selected, summarized, and packaged articles from assorted news services to give me a swift, shallow update of happenings that Yahoo deems newsworthy. In the 3 minutes that it takes to swipe through the various sections, I can become instantly informed enough to comment sagely in water cooler conversations at work  ( if I went to work and there was a water cooler) but hypothetically…
Yahoo News Digest is called that, I think, because it’s easy to digest like gluten free, lactose free, preservative free soy cheese – neatly wrapped “slices” of soft, mildly flavored stuff that you can feel virtuous about ingesting. And my favorite part of Yahoo News Digest does make you feel virtuous. When you’ve swiped to the end of the series of articles, there’s a graphic with colored dots representing the articles you’ve read.  Uh oh! There’s a blank dot. You skipped the technology article! That’s right. Go back and read all about video games that can help the US win future wars. Good job! Now all the colored dots do a happy dance and you’re good to go until theDesert-100114-marissa Yahoo Evening News Digest pops up.
Marissa Mayer says, ” Read Yahoo News Digest or else!”
Yahoo News Digest says,” Shooting in Ferguson.”
Yahoo News Digest says,” Hong Kong Protests.”
Yahoo News Digest says, “Beyoncé”
“You’re out! Yahoo News Digest does not say,’Ebola.'”
“You-must-forget-Ebola. Ebola-was-yesterday. No-dots-for-Ebola!”

Shhhh let’s move over here where Yahoo News Digest can’t peek at us through my iPad and see that I’m still clinging to the anachronistic ABQ Journal.
Inspired by Yahoo News Digest, let’s pretend that we’re swiping through this post and digesting disconnected items of interest derived from real life (mine) and the alternative universe of the ABQ Journal.
1. Hearth and Home News – Behind Closed Doors
To impress guests with your impeccable housekeeping, here’s a technique that I’ve used successfully. Stop that laughing! I realize that a few (ok, a lot of) folks would say that my giving household hints has about as much credibility as Dracula detailing the delights of a vegan picnic at sunrise. But hey, it can’t hurt to listen and learn from the Doom Room.
You know how unread newspapers, unopened mail, and unfolded laundry tend to clutter up the place? You don’t know…your house is spotless and you’re sending me a shelfie…
Oh, go f…find some other post! JK JK Read on!
Gather up all that unsightly clutter in those boxes and bags you’ve been collecting.Desert-100114-biohazzard
You haven’t been collecting…Whew! Tough crowd!
Anyway, cram all the boxed and bagged stuff into one room like your  bedroom . Close the door.
Post on the door ominous signs like, “Haunted” “Biohazard” “Employees Only” “Hard Hat Area”
“Experiment in Progress”.  Signs that hint of catastrophic consequences  for guests who dare to enter. Trust me! No one will dare. Guests will tactfully avoid even mentioning the Doom Room. Better NOT to know! They’ll enjoy the remaining clutter- free rooms and happily spread their own stuff about.
Swiping right along…

2. Health and Wellness News – Shampoo, Skittles, and Surgery
On the first day of fall, I dutifully called my primary care physician (Remember when they were called doctors?) to schedule my annual flu shot.
“Oh, no,” the nurse said. “We’re not giving flu shots anymore. Go to your pharmacy.”Desert-100114-flu
Sure, I more or less trust Smith’s Supermarket Pharmacy to put the right pills in the right bottles, but I think of shots as something a doctor or nurse gives in a medical place. Well, forget that!
After signing a formidable form which said, in essence – “No matter what hideous, debilitating, unexplainable, unpredictable consequences might befall me as a result of the flu shot, Kroger Corp., the parent company of Smith’s, is in no conceivable way, even the slightest bit responsible!” I got my flu shot in a tiny, dingy closet pretentiously labeled “Consultation Room.”
And the very next day, having survived the flu shot, I happened to be driving past CVS where a large billboard proclaimed that CVS was removing tobacco products and setting up in- store “Minute Clinics” as it sought to morph into CVS Healthy-Wealthy or something like that.
Wow! Hang on! We’re at the pinnacle of a slippery slope. Next stop – Split Second Surgery!
“Hello, CVS, I have this pain in my side and webMD says it’s appendicitis. What? There’s an appendectomy app at the AppStore and a how-to video on YouTube?
So, all I have to do is stop in and pick up my CVS Kwik Kut Surgery Kit? You’ll even give me a few minutes in the Consultation Room/OR …and I get extrabucks?
Cool. Be right over.”
And swiiiipe!

3. Pets and Pet Lovers News – In-Completely Cute
The ABQ Journal is never at a loss for a shlock and awwwwww story to enliven page one on a slow news day.  Last week, the front page scoop headlined two absolutely adorable poodle pup siblings, bright, bouncy, perfect in every way – except they were bornDesert-100114-pets without their two front legs and scooted around on their bellies.
To quote the lady from the ABQ Animal Welfare Department, “It’s very mysterious where they came from…Where would they have strayed from?”
Where, indeed?! How about this question? What toxic waste dump and/ or polluted water source did the parents of the bi- pedal pups encounter that caused them to produce the mutant twosome? And could this poisonous place be in my neighborhood?
If the ABQ Journal has future front page write-ups  of two- headed terriers or polka dotted dashchunds,  I’m outta here!
End swipe.

So, did you read every inDIGESTable word? Good job! Making dots dance is way above my payscale, but here are some happy faces to accompany the virtuous feeling of being in-the-know DD Digest- style.Cal-Seething-122313-lessamuCal-Seething-122313-amusedCal-Seething--012014--stupiCal-Seething--012014--clown

At the end of every set of Yahoo News Digest pieces, there’s a quote of the day from some pundit or celebrity.
Here’s one for you, courtesy of  a close family member with a charmingly warped sense of humor:
“Time flies like the wind. Fruit flies like bananas.”Desert-100114-marx
You’re welcome.

[Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Birthday Cake M&M’s Want to Party in Your Mouth

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M&M’s, the milk chocolate candy that melts in your mouth, not in your hands has been rolling out all kinds of new flavors and now, they’re making every day your birthday with their new Birthday Cake M&M’s.


Forrest Mars, Sr., son of the founder of Mars Candy Company came up with idea for M&M’s in the 1930’s.  He had witnessed Spanish War soldiers eating pieces of chocolate candy with a hard chocolate shell that prevented them from melting.  He decided it would make a great item to sell, got a patent for his version, and M&M’s hit stores in 1941 from a factory in Newark, New Jersey.


Birthday cake M&M’s come in red, yellow, and blue color pieces.


The two M’s in M&M’s represent the names of Forrest Mars, Sr. and Bruce Murrie, son of Hershey’s chocolate company president.  This cemented a partnership with Hershey’s to use their milk chocolate in the candy as Hershey’s had control of all rationed chocolate during World War II.  During the war, the candies were sold only to the military where they became an instant hit.  After the war, demand skyrocketed.


In 1950, each piece was branded with their now signature M for the first time.  However, it was black until 1954.


Also in 1954, Peanut M&M’s were introduced but were only tan in color.


Since 1991, M&M’s have been sold in a variety of flavors with the first being peanut butter.  Now, it seems that a new flavor and special limited editions are hitting stores on a regular basis, with the latest being birthday cake flavor.


Packaged in a light blue bag, the birthday cake M&M’s are only red, yellow, and blue in color.  The size of the candies are a little bigger than a standard M&M, almost as big as the peanut sized version.


The package contained 22 pieces and retailed for $1.42, but was on sale for $1 at CVS.


Cross section of a birthday cake M&M.

Cross section of a birthday cake M&M.

Sadly, it’s hard to taste any birthday cake.  The flavor is basically like a regular milk chocolate M&M and the insides are the same color and texture as well.  I’m sure ate side by side there would be a subtle taste difference, but they’re really nothing special (and who would do that, anyway?)


Other current M&M flavors include dark chocolate, pretzel, peanut, peanut butter, raspberry, dark mint, almond, and dark chocolate peanut.


THE 411


Name: birthday cake M&M’s


What: special flavor of M&M’s chocolate candies


Released: February 2014, mass release scheduled May 2014






Skip them and buy a standard bag of M&M’s, because they don’t taste any different.  While this product is a good idea, these need to be reformulated with more birthday cake taste.  These probably won’t be around long, once people realize this flavor is just a gimmick.

[Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Caught: Secret Marketing to Hide Product Downsizing

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Last week, I was in the drug store looking to pick up a can of body spray when I noticed that one of my favorite products Old Spice had been redesigned.  There were a few of the old cans left on the shelf and when I compared the two, I got quite a surprise.


The new product cans are shiny and eye catching.  I immediately noticed how the redesign on the can, now gave it a new higher and thinner shape.  The new Old Spice cans are now much taller than many other body spray products on the shelf.


The old and the new. Can you notice the difference in this side by side comparison?

The old and the new. Can you notice the difference in this side by side comparison?

Large bold print shouts NEW to hopefully grab the customer’s attention that the product has gone through a change.  But, it was when I took a look at the fine print, I got angry.


Old Spice has reduced the amount of spray, now in each can from 4 oz. to 3.75 oz.


So, for the same price ($5.79) – I’m getting less product.  Who likes getting less for their money?  No one!


Had I not caught the old and new cans side by side on the shelf, I probably wouldn’t have noticed.  And that’s EXACTLY what marketing companies hope for when they downsize a product.


With our current economy, more and more manufacturers are looking to stretch their dollars any way they can.  Many have done this by laying off staff, manufacturing products overseas, or as in this case placing a smaller product on store shelves.


I’ve seen this everywhere from soap, to canned goods, to soft drinks.


Are you getting less for your money and not even knowing it?

Are you getting less for your money and not even knowing it?

Companies are hoping that the consumer will not notice a small reduction in a product’s size and will use clever tactics, like redesigning the can or proclaiming it’s a NEW design to distract from the fact that you’re getting less for your money.


Given the choice, I’d rather Old Spice cut back instead of raising the price of their product.  But, if they were hoping no one would notice – to late… I did!


Old Spice has been on the markets since 1934 selling grooming products for men.  Originally a shaving cream and aftershave lotion, since being acquired by Procter & Gamble in 1990, the line has expanded to add deodorants, body washes, and body sprays with scents that target men.


THE 411


Name:  Old Spice


What: product line of male grooming products


Founded: 1934


Manufacturer: Procter & Gamble


Headquarters:  Cincinnati, Ohio






Keep and eye on your favorite products at the store.  It’s not just Old Spice, but many products have been downsized.  I saw something, I said something!


Even the bars of soap and my contact lens solutions have been downsized!  Sometimes, the cost actually goes up and you’re getting less product!


As long as nobody really notices, manufacturers will continue these tricks.  It’s up to you to be vigilant and notice.  If you don’t like what you see, reach out and give them a piece of your mind!  Go to their website and shoot them a simple email.  It’s your money – get more for it.  Or, at the very least – make them aware that we the consumers have noticed!  A reputable company will at least send you a couple of coupons or some freebies for your trouble.