Monday, September 25, 2006

"You have unbeatable confidence, you loser! You really do!"

Because today is shaping up as somewhere between chaotic and crazy, and I don't have much time for original research, I was deeply grateful when the following tip arrived in my inbox courtesy of my buddy and former editorial colleague, Doug. While watching another friend's kids over the past weekend, he took them to a toy store, where he came upon an item called the affirmation ball: basically a yellow smiley face, the shape and approximate size of a cue ball.* Reports Doug, "It would tell you things like 'you look terrific' or 'you're a good person.' " I Googled it and found numerous references. "Hold the viewing window level," say the instructions on a popular novelty site, "and one of twenty different cheery thoughts or compliments will rise to the top." My personal favorites are "your breath is so minty" and "have you lost weight?"....though I do wonder how much good those affirmations will do you if your breath actually smells like decomposing wombat and/or you're twice the size of Kirstie Alley's before photos. On the other hand, if you already know that your breath smells nice and/or you've recently lost a lot of weight...well...what do you need the ball for? But no doubt, as folks tell me all the time, I'm overthinking this.

FYI, I found another site that lists ways in which a boss can show appreciation for his secretary. Though the language of the site takes great (and ungrammatical) pains to be gender-neutral, the "feel of it" conjures images of a male boss gifting a female secretary. Or maybe I'm just reading it that way because I'm a sexist pig...? Anyway, it suggests that you give your secretary an affirmation ball. No further comment there.

* Notice that the $8 product is "sold out." And the self-esteem juggernaut marches on...!


Cosmic Connie said...

Once again, someone has stolen one of my brilliant ideas. Or maybe they got their hands on a copy of "Cosmic Relief," which was published over ten years ago. I had a spoof "Classified Ads" section that advertised a company called, "I DESERVE IT! A PERSONAL-GROWTH TOY AND GIFT SHOP." One of the items offered was the following:

"Affirmation 8-Ball — Turn it over three times, and the thought that appears after the third turn is your Magic Affirmation for the Day. It will always be just the Affirmation you need (or the person you’re reading for needs); guaranteed! A powerful tool for growth, plus you can amaze your friends at parties."

Should I be demanding royalties? :-) Or am I really in the wrong business? (Another item offered by "I Deserve It" was "motivational toilet paper," with printed slogans by Tony, Zig, etc. Slogan: "Go with the best." Everyone, keep an eye out to see if someone's hawking that.)

Steve Salerno said...

Not sure about the toilet paper, but hell yeah, I'd definitely get hold of a good patent-infringement attorney and pursue the matter of the affirmations ball--IF, indeed, you can demonstrate that the current series of balls, as it were, don't predate yours. But yanno, when I think back on all the "crazy" ideas I've had through the years--that I dismissed out of hand precisely BECAUSE they were crazy--and that someone else (with a bit more "cynacism," as our anon friend from the last post spelled it) later got rich off--

What's that saying? That you'll never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the average consumer?

Cosmic Connie said...

The lesson here is that no matter how stupid or silly you think an idea is, someone, somewhere will see a money op and will bring the idea to fruition.

Ironically, our friend Mr. Fire, aka Joe V., once said to me, in regard to my "Cosmic" humor, "Connie, you're sitting on a gold mine here. Why aren't you rich?" His late wife Marian was a Dave Barry fan, as am I. I suppose he was thinking along those lines.

The problem, of course, is that while there may be a market for this type of humor, it's limited. The sad thing is that if I were to switch to "serious" mode and actually tout some of the things I make fun of, my chances of commercial success would probably increase dramatically.

Just as you, Steve, might shoot to number one on Amazon if you were to pen a "Ten Simple Steps To..." type of book.

But I am glad you finally got the pic of the "affirmation ball" up on your blog. For some reason it made me think of an old Leo Kottke album called, "My Feet Are Smiling." Maybe he could do a sequel, "My Balls Are Smiling." :-)

Steve Salerno said...

Connie, I am so tempted--so, so tempted--the perfect retort is right on the tip of my tongue (or keyboard-fingers, more precisely)--but I've resolved to be polite and sophisticated today. (Hey, it had to happen sooner or later...)

Anonymous said...

I emailed a link to your blog to all of my friends here at NYU. It's serious and cool and funny all at the same time!--Alyssa D.

Anonymous said...

PS, read your book, that's not bad either. :) Alyssa (again)

acd said...

Note how the product description for the affirmation ball says that it is the perfect gift for those who are insecure or narcissistic. So I guess it's quite an insult just to receive one. You'll need it's cheerful encouragement just to get over the fact that people think you have self-esteem issues.

One more thing--the description also states, "You don't even have to ask a question (don't you work hard enough already?)." Oh please. That's just more proof that so many things associated with self-help include this sense of entitlement--that you don't deserve the agony of putting forth effort, but you DO deserve to have everything handed to you, including compliments, despite whether you've done anything to earn them.

Steve Salerno said...

Look...I don't mean to overplay this. I realize that the affirmation ball and like products are novelties. Any thinking being would instantly recognize the folly of getting inspiration from a pre-printed yellow cue ball. It's as crazy as making life plans based on something you read in a fortune cookie. Or, say, as ridiculous as being inspired by watching a seminar guru try, and fail, to lift up an attendee whom the guru has instructed to imagine himself "anchored to the stage!" Oh...wait a sec...that actually happens....