If you have a loyalty card for every merchant, are you loyal to any of them? No. The idea of being loyal to a store seems ridiculous, as if you’re expected to stick up for them in a fight or sing the Company Song with tears welling in your eyes when the company banner is unfurled. To mine Walgreens, True I shall e’er be! We sign up because we get stuff or pay less

When I am close to the store the Rewards card pops up on my lock screen - one of those things that defines modern life: at first you think it’s an absolute miracle. It’s like Mom going to the department store and her charge card magically levitated out of her purse! Of course, if it did that every time she walked past the store, she’d be irritated, and so it is with the Rewards card. I drive past, it pops up. I could disable it, but it’s handy when I actually go to the store. It’s not as if one of the great burdens of life is having to look at a Rewards card message on your lock screen, is it? I can’t go on. I must go on.

When I use it I get points, which can be redeemed for something down the road after I’ve spent $15,000 or whatever the threshold might be. Well, tonight I was looking at NyQuil for wife, who got my cold and got it magnified 10X:

There were the usual choices: The Real Stuff, and the Store Brand that Tastes like Donkey Sputum. Everyone knows it. They could probably make the store brand taste better, but why? You’re buying it to save money. Suffer. The Nyquil had words printed on the security wrapper: VICKS DOES NOT MAKE STORE BRANDS. A bit defensive, eh? Google VICKS DOES NOT MAKE and it autocompletes “store brands.” It’s been on the wrapping for a few years, I gather. It’s a smart move - inserts the seed of doubt, lest anyone thinks they sold the crown jewels to maximize market share, but everyone knows the store brands are reverse engineered, and possibly use Mexican methoholodyexophine-2 made in shoddy factories where the manager periodically relieves himself in the vat. It’s always the same percentage as the real thing. I’d more impressed if it had the same chemicals but twice as much, and they were proud of it.

NyQuil came in two varieties: alcohol free (lots on hand) and 20 Proof (one bottle left.) But! There was a bargain pack. Buy DayQuil and NyQuil together, and it’s 18.99, but the sign said

SPECIAL! 10.99 with card
$1 plus 1,000 points


A dollar more for both than for one, in other words. But I looked at that “- $1 plus 1,000 points” and didn’t know if it meant that I would get a dollar off if I spent 1,000 points. Minus one dollar plus one thousand points.

Why not say SPECIAL $9.99 with card and leave it at that? Toss in the points if you want: BONUS: 1,000 points. Then people would know. Half the deals are like that. I remember going to grocery stores in Arizona, and seeing two-tier prices on everything. $27.99. With card, $1.24. You feel a bit resentful of those card people. Walking around all smug because they have the card. How I hate them. Sure, you could get a card, but there would be things to fill out, and another card to carry around, and you’d forget it. Sure, they could look it up with your phone number, but then the rest of the people in line would sigh: I don’t know why they give these cards to irresponsible people, it just ruins it for the rest of us.

At the register they asked if I had a card, and I said no. Want one? The cashier snapped one off a plastic sheet and beeped it and voila, I BELONGED.

The next trip to AZ I took it with. Tried it. Didn’t work. The cashier shrugged and snapped off another. Beeped it. I WAS BACK IN.

I saved nine dollars! Great. Just seems odd stores make it so easy to lose nine dollars, but I’m sure they think it’s worth it because they get all kinds of information that helps them plan their business strategies. Our data shows there is one customer who comes annually and buys donuts. What can we do to get him in the store twice a year?

Anyway, I didn’t buy the two-pack, because we have plenty of Dayquil - from previous two-packs. No one ever takes it. Makes my head feel like a balloon full of Sea-monkeys. I did not tarry to investigate the rest of the remedies, because they seem to split up the symptoms needlessly. This one is good for congestion and cough, this one for cough and fever, this one for fever and erupting pustules, this one for headache and inflamed buboes, and so on. It’s a respiratory illness. Just pack it all into one sauce and bamboozle me with different flavors. No one ever shuffles up to the cold counter, eyes rheumy, throat raw, looks at the EXTREME FLU bottles that promise to fix every possible symptom save barking up an entire lung-lobe, and thinks “Well, I’m sick, but I’m not that sick.”

Well, here we are again: Friday! The week galloped past and it was a good one. The thaw won’t last - temps back in the 30s next week, alas, but the streets shone with the blood of slaughtered snow today, and all the great banks have sagged. There’s that ineffable hint of hope in the air, which around here means it’s time for a blizzard.

All I know is that there’s cheap plastic green junk in the stores, so it has to be spring. If there’s anything that gives you hope the long grinding winter is over, it’s a $4.99 plastic tie that says “Rub me for luck.”

$3.99 if you have the card.


The weekly Lum & Abner Organ Mystery: Not a mystery at all. As I've noted, the shows end with the organist vamping off the story with a reference to a tune that may, or may not, be easily recongized. Sometimes he was being sly; sometimes he went for the obvious one.

They're going to be millionaires! This happened a few times a year. They always had some idea to make a lot of money. Well:


The organist adds the cuckoo! sounds again. But where's the tune from? Obviously, "Gold Diggers of 1933." It's misunderstood. If you watch a clip of the musical number, you might think it's the most crass materialistic thing you've ever seen, but all the braggadocio about being flush is immediately undercut when the number's cut short and the show closed down because the producer is broke.

Al Dubin, the lyricist, spent the last few years of his life in lousy health; his doctor presecribed barbituates, which probably didn't help. He collapsed on the street from barbituate poisoning AND pneumonia. Harry Warren wrote the music. Harry Warren wrote a lot of music.

Now, the weekly cull of "Couple Next Door" cues. One new one! Mostly repeats, but perhaps you will enjoy hearing these short little snippets of 1959 radio music.

CND Cue #332 Music for setting off to set someone straight!

CND Cue #333 Again, more 60s than 50s; could be used in a car commercial. Where it’s going at the end I really, really like - but I’ve never heard the rest.

CND Cue #334 More off-to-do-a-thing-merrily.

CND Cue #335 This one always sounds barnyard bird conversation; resolves quickly down to the Chord of Domestic Satisfaction.

CND Cue #336 Slight “told you so” music.

CND Cue #337 Happy shopping, everyone! Hope the wheels on your cart don’t wobble or go sideways.

CND Cue #338 New! Just a few tantalizing notes; meant for background dinner music on board a cruise ship. Lush

CND Cue #339 More domestic industry.

CND Cue #340 NEW! Hiccupy confusion with the Chord spliced on the end.


Continental floor juice, 1959:

Can it be true, this miracle wax?


Updates on the right - Patriotica ads, and a NEW COLUMN at the newspaper. Here. (Scroll down to the Columnists pane; when I did this it hadn't posted yet.) Have a grand weekend!




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