Selling Super Products

August 3, 2007

Writing copy for a flyer is tricky. You have to come up with something quick and snappy. That means you have to cram loads of information in one small piece of paper and still manage to keep it in interesting even though the product you’re selling is pitifully boring. Well, what if you’re given a chance to write copy for a SuperProduct that’s infinitely more interesting than the usual products you have to sell? Kinda like this one:

TIRED OF PENCILS THAT GIVE UP ON YOU WHEN YOU’RE BRAINSTORMING?

Introducing the new MONGOL X SUPERPENCIL 2099 PROFESSIONAL EDITION*–the definitive pencil for the new millennium! Straight from the genius minds of the creators of the SuperEraser and SuperYellowPad comes this groundbreaking SuperPencil that will make you the Brainstorming King of your team! Check out these fancy features:

Embedded AMD X44 MicroChip that records every character you wrote. Just press INSTANT REWRITE to, well, rewrite the last word you erased.
MP3 Player (accessories are available upon request) – chill out with some music while you’re brainstorming!
Built-in Automatic Sharpener** – you won’t need to sharpen your pencil anymore because it does it all by itself!
Ultraviolet Lead – you might not see what you wrote in normal light but under UV illumination, your scribbles appear in full display!
Licorice Eraser, which comes in different flavors like humba, paksiw, inun-unan and tabliya! Perfect for chewing when you’re racking your brains for new ideas!

The new MONGOL X SUPERPENCIL 2099 PROFESSIONAL EDITION is available in different funky colors (blue, azure, beryl, cerulean, cobalt, indigo, navy, royal, sapphire, teal, turquoise and ultramarine) and if you decide to order 12 pieces before Friday, we’ll give you a dozen! GET YOUR OWN MONGOL X SUPERPENCIL 2099 PROFESSIONAL EDITION NOW! Call 415-8200 to order (look for Thea)!

*Also available: MONGOL X SUPERPENCIL 2099 COLLEGE EDITION AND PRE-SCHOOL EDITION.
**9 Volt Battery not included.

This week’s exercise is to come up with something like this. Just follow these steps: 1) You must base it on a real product (no laser pistols or stuff like that), 2) Endow that real product with Super Features (sky is the limit so use your imagination), and 3) Keep it under 300 words.

Here’s what I did:

WORKING OUT HAS NEVER BEEN THIS MUCH FUN!

Introducing the groundbreaking exercise machine of the century—the new MITSUBISHI POWERMAN CARDIO-ENHANCER ALL-PURPOSE ALPHA RUNNER OMNI-SURFACE PROGRAMMABLE SUPERTREADMILL 32-DX OLYMPIC EDITION!!!!

It’s SLEEK! It’s CHIC! It’s the ULTIMATE indoor sporting equipment! With the following unique features:

All-Weather Simulator—simulate your favorite atmospheric condition while you’re running! Choose from Sunny Weather, Cool Evening, Signal Number Three, Colon Smog, Dewy Dawn or Sudden Death: Bullet Dodger*!
Replaceable Belt Surface—choose what surface you want to run on! Available surfaces include Bermuda Grass, Asphalt Road, Sandy Beach, Annapog (Wet/Dry), Abellana Rubber and even Wooden Floor!
Built-in Surround Sound Home Theater System—view your favorite movies while you’re doing your work-out! For good measure, we’ve included the complete Judy Ann Santos DVD Collection in the package!
Instant Coffee Maker—need a dose of caffeine after the 2nd kilometer? Just activate this feature and immediately get your espresso!
Cheat Generator—can’t seem to reach your goal of 5 kilometers under an hour? Don’t worry! Just press the CHEAT button and the colored liquid crystal display monitor (1024 x 768 resolution, 14 inches) will automatically congratulate you for achieving your goal!

Hurry! Get your own MITSUBISHI POWERMAN CARDIO-ENHANCER ALL-PURPOSE ALPHA RUNNER OMNI-SURFACE PROGRAMMABLE SUPERTREADMILL 32-DX OLYMPIC EDITION now!!! Call 415-8200 to order (look for Thea)!

*You’ll need to present your bulletproof vest in order to avail of this feature.

AVAIL OF OUR FIRST 10 PROMO! If you’re one of the first ten buyers of  MITSUBISHI POWERMAN CARDIO-ENHANCER ALL-PURPOSE ALPHA RUNNER OMNI-SURFACE PROGRAMMABLE SUPERTREADMILL 32-DX OLYMPIC EDITION, you’ll get a FREE demo!
PER DTI 09173984399.

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Five Liners

July 20, 2007

This week’s exercise is Cinquain poetry. A Cinquain is a poem expressed in 5 line stanzas, varying in rhyme and line, but usually with a rhyming scheme of ABABB. A good example of a Cinquain is Robert Browning’s poem “Porphyria’s lover”:

Murmuring how she loved me—she
Too weak, for all her heart endeavour
To set its struggling passion free
From pride, and vainer ties dissever,
And give herself to me for ever.

I made three:

After the Try-out

“I underestimated the level of play”,
Chris Tucker said to Jackie Chan,
“kinda stupid of me, but hey,
just doing the best I can.
But I‘ll never play rugby again.”

An Alien Species Makes Contact

Traveling several light years through space,
Optimus Prime lands in Southern Africa.
Looking around, the robot is amazed–
Nothing here to be its replica!
Instead, he copied an orange planggana!

A Movie Star Visits Tagbilaran in May

Lindsay Lohan could not believe it–
The lechon and humba tasted heavenly!
“Where’s the leche flan?! Give it
To me!” But she stopped suddenly.
“Incoming diarrhea attack—oh, help me!”

We were actually given three pictures of which we based our cinquains:
a) After the Try-out (a picture of Afro-American guy with scratches all over his body)
b) An Alien Species Makes Contact (a picture of a crying African kid beside an empty orange pan)
c) A Movie Star Visits Tagbilaran in May (a picture of an unidentified girl clutching her stomach)

An Excerpt

July 12, 2007

from “Black Swan Green” by David Mitchell

Note: 1982, England. Having had enough of bullying, Jason Taylor (the novel’s protagonist and narrator) had just destroyed the new solar-powered calculator of Neal Brose, the school’s “Golden Boy” but a cruel bully leader with cronies Gary Drake and David Ockeridge). Jason is sent to the schoolmaster and proceeds to reveal Neal Brose’s bullying activities to the disgruntled schoolmaster. As a result, Neal Brose is expelled. Jason Taylor narrates what happens next during the afternoon.

Neal Brose normally sits up front in English, slap bang in the middle. Go on, said Unborn Twin, take the bastard’s seat. You owe it to him. So I did. David Ockeridge, who sits next to Neal Brose, chose a seat farther back. But Clive Pike, of all people, put his bag next to me. “Anyone sitting here?” Clive Pike’s breath smells of cheese’n’onion Outer Spacers, but who cares?

I made a Go ahead face.

Miss Lippetts shot me a look as we chanted, “Good afternoon, Miss Lippetts.” So swift and crafty it was almost not there, but it was. “Sit down, 3KM. Pencil cases out, please. Today, we’ll exercise our supply young minds on a composition, on this theme … ” As we got our stuff out, Miss Lippetts wrote on the board.

A SECRET.

The slap and slide of chalk’s a reassuring sound.

“Tamsin, do me the honor, please.”

Tamsin Murrell read, “‘A secret’, miss.”

“Thank you. But what is a secret?”

It takes everyone a bit of time to get going after lunch.

“Well, say, is a secret a thing you can see? Touch?”

Avril Bredon put her hand up.

“Avril?”

“A secret’s a piece of information that not everybody knows.”

“Good. A piece of information that not everyone knows. Information about … who? You? Somebody else? Something? All of these?

After a gap, a few kids murmured, “All of these.”

“Yes, I’d say so too. But ask yourselves this. Is a secret a secret if it isn’t true?”

That was a tight knot of a question. Miss Lippetts wrote,

MISS LIPPETTS IS NANCY REAGAN.

Most of the girls laughed.

“If I asked you stay behind after class, waited till we were alone and whispered, in all seriousness, this statement, would you go, ‘No! Really! Wow! What a secret!’ Duncan?”

Duncan Priest had his hand up. “I’d phone Little Malvern Loonybin, miss. Book you a room with a nice mattress. On all the walls.” Duncan Priest’s small fan club laughed. “That’s not a secret, miss! It’s just the gibberish of an utter nutter.”

“A pithy and rhyming assessment, thank you. As Duncan says, so-called ‘secrets’ that are palpably false cannot be considered secrets. If enough people believed I was Nancy Reagan, that might cause me problems, but we still couldn’t think of it as a ‘secret’, could we? More of a mass delusion. Can anyone tell me what a mass delusion is? Alastair?”

“I head loads of Americans think Elvis Presley is still alive.”

“Fine example. However, I’m now going to let you in on a secret about myself which is true. It’s a touch embarrassing, so please don’t spread it around at break-time … ”

MISS LIPPETTS IS AN AXE-MURDERER.

Now half the boys laughed too.

Shhh! I buried my victims under the M50. So there’s no evidence. No suspicion. But is this secret still a secret? If it’s one that nobody, and I mean nobody, has the faintest suspicion about?”

An interested silence played itself out.

“Yes … ” muttered a few kids as a few kids muttered, “No … ”

You’d know, miss.” Clive Pike raised his hand. “If you really were an axe-murderer. So you can’t say nobody knows it.”

“Not if miss was a schizophrenic axe-murderer,” Duncan Priest told him. “Who never remembers the crimes she commits. She might just … turn, like that, chop you to bits for forgetting your homework, whack splurt splatter, flush the remains down the sewer, black out, then wake up again as mild-mannered Miss Lippetts, English teacher, go, ‘Gosh, blood on my clothes again? How odd that this keeps happening whenever there’s a full moon. Oh well. Into the washing machine.’ Then it would be a secret nobody knew, right?”

“Delicious imagery, Duncan, thank you. But imagine all the murders to have ever occurred in the Severn Valley, since, say, Roman times. All those victims, all those murderers, dead and turned to dust. Can those violent acts, which no one, remember, has thought about for a thousand years, also be called ‘secrets’? Holly?”

“Not secrets, miss,” said Holly Deblin. “Just … lost information.”

“Sure. So can we agree, a secret needs a human agency to know it, or at least write it down? A holder. A keeper. Emma Ramping! What are you whispering to Abigail?”

“Miss?”

“Stand up, please, Emma.”

Worried, lanky Emma Ramping stood up.

“I’m conducting a lesson here. What are you telling Abigail?”

Emma Ramping hid behind a very sorry face.

“Is it a piece of information that not everybody knows?”

“Yes, miss.”

“Speak up, Emma, so the groundlings can hear you!”

“Yes, miss.”

“Aha. So you were confiding a secret to Abigail.”

Emma Ramping reluctantly nodded.

“How topical. Well, why not share this secret with us? Now. In a nice loud voice.”

Emma Ramping began blushing, miserably.

“I’ll do you a deal, Emma. I’ll let you off the hook if you just explain why you’re happy sharing your secret with Abigail, but not the rest of us.”

“Because … I don’t want everyone to know, miss.”

“Emma is telling us about secrets, 3KM. Thank you, Emma, be seated and sin no more. How do you kill a secret?”

Leon Cutler stuck up his hand. “Tell people.”

“Yes, Leon. But how many people? Emma told Abigail her secret, but that didn’t kill it, did it? How many people have to be in the know before the secret’s an ex-secret?”

“Enough,” Duncan Priest said, “to get you sent to the electric chair, miss. For being an axe-murderer, I mean.”

“Who can reconstruct Duncan’s glorious wit into a general principle? How many people does it take to kill a secret? David?”

“As many,” David Ockeridge thought about it, “as it takes, miss.”

“As it takes to do what? Avril?”

“As it takes to change,” Avril Bredon frowned, “whatever it is the secret’s about. Miss.”

“Solid reasoning, 3KM. Maybe the future is in safe hands, after all. If Emma told us what she told Abigail, that secret would be dead. If my murders are exposed in the Malvern Gazetteer, I’m … well, dead, if Duncan’s on the jury, anyway. The scale is different, but the principle is the same. Now, my next question is the one that truly intrigues me because I’m not sure what the answer is. Which secrets should be made public? And which shouldn’t?”

That question had not quick takers.

For the fiftieth or hundredth time that day I thought of Ross Wilcox.

“Who can tell me what this word means?

ETHICS

Chalk mist falls in the wakes of words.

I’d looked “ethics” up once. It crops up in the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant books. It means morality. Mark Badbury already had his hand up.

“Mark?”

“The answer’s in what you just said, miss. Ethics is to do with what you should and shouldn’t do.”

“Very smart answer, Mark. In Socrates’ Greece they would have considered you a fine rhetorician. Is it ethical to get every secret out in the open?”

Duncan cleared his throat. “Seems pretty ethical to get your secret out in the open, miss. To stop innocent school kids being chopped up?”

“Spot on, Duncan. But would you spill the beans on this one?

BATMAN’S REAL NAME IS BRUCE WAYNE

Most of the boys in the class let out murmurs of admiration.

“If this secret gets out, what is every master criminal in the world going to do? Christopher?”

“Blow Bruce Wayne’s mansion to smithereens, miss.” Christopher Twyford  sighed. “No more Caped Crusader.”

“Which would be a loss to society at large, yes? So sometimes it’s ethical not to reveal a secret. Nicholas?”

“Like the Official Secrets Act.” Nicholad Briar usually doesn’t say a word in class. “When the Falkland Wars was on.”

“Just so, Nicholas. Loose lips sink ships. Now. Think about your own secrets.” (The connection between Ross Wilcox’s wallet and his lost leg. My grandfather’s smashed-up Omega Seamaster. Madame Crommelynck.) “How quiet it has suddenly become. Right, are all your secrets of the ‘Yes, I Should Tell’ or ‘No, I shouldn’t Tell’ varieties? Or is there a third category that, ethically speaking, is not so clear cut? Personal secrets that don’t affect anyone else? Trivial ones? Complex ones, with uncertain consequences if you tell them?”

Mumbled Yeses, growing in strength.

Miss Lippetts got a fresh stick from a box of chalk. “You acquire more of these ambiguous secrets as you age, 3KM. Not less. Get used to them. Who can guess why I’m writing this word … ”

REPUTATION

“Jason?”

3KM turned into a radio telescope aimed at the class grass.

“Reputation is what gets damaged, miss, once a secret’s out. Your reputation as a teacher’d be shot to bits, if it’s proved you are an axe-murderer. Bruce Wayne’s reputation as this wouldn’t-say-boo-to-a-goose Mr Nobody’d be done for. It’s like Neal Brose, too isn’t it?” (If I can grind a solar-powered calculator to bits then stuffing this rule that I should be ashamed for grassing on a kid and getting him expelled. In fact stuff all rules.) “He had quite a secret going, didn’t he? Wayne Nashend knew, Anthony Little knew. A few others.” Gary Drake, over to my left, stared straight ahead. “But once his secret is out, his reputation as this … ”

To everyone’s surprise, Miss Lippetts suggested, “Golden boy?”

“Golden boy. Excellent term, Miss Lippetts.” (For the first time in God knows how long I earned some class laughs.) “That reputation’s wrecked. His reputation with kids as this … hard-knock you don’t mess with is wrecked too. Without a reputation to hide his secret behind, Neal Brose is … totally … completely … ”

Say it, nudged Unborn Twin, I dare you to.

“ … buggered, miss. Screwed and buggered.”

That appalled silence was my handiwork. Words made it. Just words.

Miss Lippetts loves her job, on good days.

-~-

Now, that’s good writing. Nifty.

Might As Well Try It

June 22, 2007

This week’s exercise is to write a horror short story in 500 words. Here’s what I did:

WITCH
(497 words)

“It’s getting late,” Glenda said to her six year old adopted brother, “maybe we should go tomorrow instead.”

“No, we have to do it now,” Paul said.

“What’s this place anyway?”

“A witch laboratory. The whole house is a witch university.”

“Whatever.”

They squeezed through the broken basement window and went in. Cobwebs covered everything, the furniture smelled of old newspapers. All doors were locked save for one—slightly ajar on the northern wall. Paul reached for the knob. The door didn’t creak. Something smelled inside. Something foul. Paul took a step forward but Glenda grasped his wrist. Paul turned around and froze. “Sister,” Paul said, “behind you.”

Before Glenda could turn, someone pushed from behind. She grabbed Paul as they fell down the stairs, letting go of him when she hit the ground below. It was dark, the ground was wet. She felt a stabbing pain in her left foot. She reached out for Paul. “Paul?” she called out, “PAUL?”

“You shouldn’t have come here,” said a woman’s voice.

Light flooded the room. Dogs and cats everywhere. All dead, all headless. Blood covered the floor. Glenda looked up. An old woman was descending with a large knife.

“All these years,” the old woman mumbled. She raised her knife to strike. “All these years.”

A dead cat hit the old woman in the head. She shifted one foot and slipped. She fell—knife skidding to Paul’s feet.

“Paul!” Glenda exclaimed, “thank God you’re okay.”

Paul looked silently at Glenda. He took the knife and stood over the old woman. She stared at his face. A look of surprise. And recognition.

“You,” she growled in terror and rage. “YOU!”

“Remember the last time,” Paul said.

“Damn you. DAMN YOU!”

“Paul, what is she talking about?” Glenda asked. Paul remained silent. Glenda stared at his face. It was Paul. And yet it was not.

“Never again,” he said before plunging the knife into the old woman’s chest.

Glenda heard the scream. She tried to look away but she couldn’t—her eyes fixed on Paul. He kept his hands on the knife then methodically twisted it. Glenda saw him bury his right hand in and quickly pull something out. As he stood, he raised his hand above his face and squeezed it. Blood poured from the dead woman’s heart into his open mouth. He licked his lips and threw it away.

He walked toward Glenda, knife still in his hand.

~-~

“Why won’t you tell me what happened, baby?” Glenda’s mother asked, close to tears.

“I can’t,” Glenda said without emotion. She shifted her gaze to the window. Outside the psychiatric facility, she could see dark clouds looming at the distance.

“Paul will be here in an hour,” her mother remembered.

“I don’t want to see him.”

“Why not?”

Glenda just stared ahead.

“Baby, what happened?” Her mother pleaded, now crying, “Tell me.”

“I can’t,” Glenda replied and closed her eyes.

Glenda’s mother walked out the door without saying goodbye.

Turning Japanese

June 6, 2007

This week’s exercise are haikus.

Cramps!

Both triceps flexing!
Hamstring muscles near bursting!
But I’m still smiling!

Early Morning Irony

Hello there, Dawn Sky—
Your view couldn’t be better!
Forgot my glasses!

Conceited Bovines

“He’s looking at me!”
“Of course not! He’s after me!”
Ugly bloated cows!

The Chronically Depressed Tennis Ball Opines

I am all alone—
Nobody wants to use me—
I should kill myself—

The Death of a Movie Star

Dumb Lindsay Lohan—
Wrong place, wrong time, wrong species—
The croc didn’t mind—

Actually, we were given some pictures on which we based our haikus. They are:

1) Cramps! (a  picture of a gymnast doing a handstand, with both legs spread-eagled)
2) Early Morning Irony (a picture of a beautiful morning skyline)
3) Conceited Bovines (a picture of two cows looking at the camera)
4) The Chronically Depressed Tennis Ball Opines (a picture of a single tennis ball on the ground)
5) The Death of a Movie Star (a picture of a swimming crocodile)

What’s In A Name?

May 18, 2007

This week’s exercise is to write an acrostic poem based on my own name. Here is what I did:

Dream

Gray clouds of longing
Undulate beneath these stormy sheets.
In the darkness of this quiet dusk,
Life hangs in a standstill
Except for traces of your words,
Laughter remembered and missed,
Echoing inside of me.
Still, I whisper a luminous hello—
Stay, I implore, don’t ever go.

Come daybreak, the sky will paint
A tangerine glow on your brow.
Nascent sighs soon epitomize
Each moment of my near waking.
Night has almost gone, but you
Can still defer this parting.
Inside this fleeting dream—stay
A little while longer.

He Says, She Says

May 11, 2007

This week’s exercise is to write one short scene, with two characters, entirely in dialogue. Tell something about the characters: their relationship to each other, the setting, the action of the story, with no directions other than those given in the words of the characters to each other. I did a chat log version just for fun. Here it is:

Reconnect
(847 words)

| | Bianca | | says: Hi. U there?
_Henry_ says: Hey, B. Long time no see :). Haven’t heard from you for some time now.
| | Bianca | | says: Do you still sell load?
_Henry_ says: Yup. How much?
| | Bianca | | says: 150 – 09197159423.
_Henry_ says: Wait a sec.
| | Bianca | | says: Make it ALL TEXT.
_Henry_ says: Ok.
| | Bianca | | says: Thnks. 🙂
_Henry_ says: You got it already?
| | Bianca | | says: Yeah. Can I pay you tomorrow?
_Henry_ says: Sure, no problem. How’s work?
| | Bianca | | says: Work is, you know, work. A lot of our call center agents have been migrating to C_____ so I guess there are a lot of slots to fill. That’s why I’m working an extra day for this week to pick up the slack. I’m really looking forward to my day off tomorrow.
_Henry_ says: It figures. I don’t usually see you online on Fridays.
| | Bianca | | says: You’re working late yourself. It’s almost ten and ur still here. What gives?
_Henry_ says: The usual. Server problems, connectivity problems—nothing new. I’d rather finish it tonight because I got band practice tomorrow afternoon.
| | Bianca | | says: You’re doing a gig?
_Henry_ says: Yup. Outpost, ten o’clock. It’s the opening night of Lisa’s photo exhibit. She invied us to play.
_Henry_ says: invited.
| | Bianca | | says: Cool.
_Henry_ says: You can pass by tomorrow night if ur free.
| | Bianca | | says: I don’t know.
_Henry_ says: It’ll be fun. Neil is going and Zee, too. You can bring Kyle along.
| | Bianca | | says: We broke up.
_Henry_ says. Whoa.
| | Bianca | | says: :(.
_Henry_ says: Since when?
| | Bianca | | says: I don’t know. About three weeks ago.
_Henry_ says: No shit.
| | Bianca | | says: …
_Henry_ says: What happened?
| | Bianca | | says: Please, I don’t wanna talk about it.
_Henry_ says: Sorry.
| | Bianca | | says: Brb.

| | Bianca | | may not reply because he or she appears to be offline.

_Henry_ says: Sure.

The following was not sent to the recipient:

_Henry_ says: Sure.

| | Bianca | | is now online.

| | Bianca | | says: Still there?
_Henry_ says: Hello.
| | Bianca | | says: Sorry, I had to restart my PC.
_Henry_ says: No prob.
| | Bianca | | says: Anyway, how are you? How is Abby?
_Henry_ says: She’s okay. She’s leaving for Canada on the 24th.
| | Bianca | | says: Wow.
_Henry_ says: Yup, her application pulled through earlier this month. She’s spending this weekend in Danao with Mama before she leaves. Mama’s going to miss her.
| | Bianca | | says: I hope Abby sends his big brother those hard to find CDs.
_Henry_ says: Hehe. Yup, I gave her a list already.
| | Bianca | | says: I’ll be going home to Cagayan myself soon.
_Henry_ says: Really? When?
| | Bianca | | says: As soon as my exit interview is scheduled.
_Henry_ says: You’re resigning?
| | Bianca | | says: Effective June 15. Supposedly.
_Henry_ says: Why?
| | Bianca | | says: I need a change.
| | Bianca | | says: I just need to stay away for a while. I don’t know.
_Henry_ says: You going home for good?
| | Bianca | | says: I don’t know. It depends. I just know I need to go and sort myself out.
_Henry_ says: I understand.
| | Bianca | | says: Thanks.
| | Bianca | | says: Hey, I’m not sure if I can go see your gig tomorrow night. How do I pay you?
_Henry_ says: Come on, ur only two blocks away from Gaw’s. You can drop it there anytime.
| | Bianca | | says: Okay.
_Henry_ says: Besides, I’m always hanging around at Gaw’s most weekends. You can just stop by if ever you need some company. Pizza’s on me. 🙂
| | Bianca | | says: Sure.
_Henry_ says: Like old times.
| | Bianca | | says: :).
_Henry_ says: It’s getting late. I have to go—still have to meet with Prix for the demos.
| | Bianca | | says: Thanks for keeping me company tonyt.
_Henry_ says: No prob. B, you take care, okay?
| | Bianca | | says: I will.
_Henry_ says: Gotta go. Bye.
| | Bianca | | says: Bye. Give my regards to Prix.
_Henry_ says: Sure :). Be seeing you.

_Henry_ may not reply because he or she appears to be offline.

| | Bianca | | says: I missed you.

The following was not sent to the recipient:

| | Bianca | | says: I missed you.