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I Will Invent A Conspiracy Theory June 12, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in General.
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This week’s news that IHOP, the International House of Pancakes, is changing its name to IHOB, the International House of Burgers, has struck many people as a monumentally stupid piece of rebranding.

Other burger chains trolled IHOP on Twitter, and social media buzzed with everyone’s hot take on it all.

Well, here’s mine – I think they’re trying to pull a New Coke on us.

If you’re not familiar with the New Coke conspiracy theory (to which I am a believer), Coke wanted to save money back in the early 80s by switching from the rising costs of cane sugar to the cheaper price of corn syrup to use as the sweetener in coke.

But as all of us who prefer Mexican Coke know, Coke made with cane sugar tastes different – slightly less sweet, slightly less syrupy.

If they switch sweeteners on Coke and do nothing else, they’ll ALREADY have a “New” Coke out there they’ll have to defend… I’m sure taste tests responding to the success of the Pepsi Challenge ads of the day told them that people noticed the difference in their oh-so-special formula, one that supposedly NO ONE could ever copy… so if people could taste a difference, they’d be destroying their own brand.

Destroy your brand, or pay through the nose for sugar forever?

OR – a clever con job! Formulate a FAKE New Coke that tastes like flat Pepsi, take sugar-Coke off the market and ONLY sell the Fake New Coke for just a few months, until peoples’ palates forget and the shelves are clear of the old stock.

THEN when your Fake New Coke inevitably bombs, make a big deal of a supposed “apology,” bring back what you tell people is the Old Coke they remember with a load of hoopla – only this time with the corn syrup – and everyone will be GLAD to have their “old” Coke back, and that they beat a big corporation, and that the big corporation listened to them, and all the free publicity as sales go right back up and keep going….all the while people not realizing that the formula has been switched after all.


Look closely on the grassy knoll in the Zapruder film… you’ll see that Coke bottle.

Bill Cosby drugged us all into believing it, too!

Anyway, whether or not the New Coke Conspiracy Theory is true, it’s well known enough that I think IHOP is trying the same thing.

IHOPs main competition, Denny’s, has been kicking its ass for the past few years. Denny’s revenues and earnings are steadily rising at a decent clip, with a nice jump recently in the past quarter, up an impressive 25%. Their stock is up a whopping 50% in the past year – think about that, the value of that company has grown by one half – have they – in one year? – added 50% more restaurants out there?

Where the FUCK would they put them? On top of the Denny’s that are ALREADY there, at every god damn highway stop in existence?

Nope – it’s same store sales that are up. And NOT just at breakfast, but throughout the day.

IHOP’s company, Dine Equity, also owns Appleby’s. Their stock, revenues, and earnings have tanked in the past three years, off about 20-25% from their peak. And lately the stock has a head and shoulders chart pattern, which often bodes badly.

IHOPs weakness has ALWAYS been their non-breakfast menu. So how do you compete with Denny’s?

Rebrand yourself as the lunch/dinner place via the “burger” ruse, get a lot of publicity… and get people to defend your pancakes.

Look online at how many “Who makes better pancakes, IHOP or Denny’s?” crapola there is.

Get people to defend your pancakes. That’s what this is ALL about.

Got pancakes in your name? CHANGE IT.

Oh, but not too expensively – just FLIP A LETTER IN YOUR EXISTING SIGNS AND LOGOS.

Think how easy it’ll be to flip it back in several months if I’m right and it’s “Here’s your old Coke!” all over again, and they look for the breakfast and pancake biz to go up as more people jump on Team IHOP and off the Denny’s train.

I’m not emotional about this (despite my clear insanity, thanks), I really could give a shit. I usually look for mom & pop type diners to find really good pancakes. I miss one in Burbank called Barron’s that burned down many years ago and never reopened.

To be honest, I’m fine with breakfast in either IHOP or Denny’s although I must admit, I’d never think of IHOP for anything BUT breakfast, and that’s what I think they’re trying to change.

I just wanna see if I wind up being right about this.


To paraphrase Frank Gorshin as The Riddler: EVERY CYNICAL BONE IN MY BODY WILL CRY HUZZAH! HUZZAH!


<– Bonus points if you recognize this guy.


Who Wants To Tell Them It’s Not Chocolate? June 11, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in General.
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For that fresh, clean feeling.

I’ve Never Seen These Two Together In Color June 8, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in General, Movies.
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Until today.

“I hope my Kodachrome impresses you, Rick.”

“It does, Ugarte. I am impressed with you now.”

Launching Wagstaff Summer 2018 June 1, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in General, Movies, Writing.
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Starting it off right – today I set a new record for alcohol purchases for a single day by replenishing different departments. Between a Trader Joes run and then a Costco trip, I refilled the ol’ wine fridge with a nice assortment, grabbed a new monster-sized Bulleit Rye (which I came back to after a brief sampling of some others, both for taste and for the Costco value), and then figured “Why not? snagging a 24 pack of Modelo regular and Modelo Negro.

I was also a good boy and donated 2 big boxes of books I culled from my overstocked library, picking out stuff I’ll never read or never read again, or in the case of numerous old reference books, never use again. I also took an old computer to be recycled. Lots more room in here to stretch out, that is until I inevitably buy more books to fill the opened up shelf space.

No books at an estate sale I happened upon on the way to Costco, but I did manage to grab some nice vintage kitchen items. They don’t make Tupperware like that anymore, y’know.

But the big plans this summer have to do with getting more books ready. First up will be a young adult scifi adventure novel I wrote sometime back that has spent enough time bouncing around Hollywood hell and ought to just get an Amazon release. It will be the first book in a series, so if y’all like the characters & the concept once you check it out, there’ll be more to come. Watch this space in the next few weeks for more details and previews and the like. This one will have illustrations and a more complex interior design, so I’ll need to be experimenting with that aspect. Aiming for a late summer/early fall release.

And yes, it IS the actual “kid’s book” referenced repeatedly in the Wagstaff detective series. It really does exist. I can write clean material, really I can.

For those of you who want to take the escalator up to the Adult Department of Berkin Inc.,  the raw material for the third entry in the Wagstaff detective series is pretty much all organized and ready to work with.  I will also spend the summer banging out a draft of Wagstaff 3. Stay tuned for more on that as well, not sure of a release time yet.

I know, I know… work work work (Hello boys, I missed you…)

But as long as I can get into a routine and concentrate, I think I can git ‘r all done. Not sure if I need Jonathan Shields to light my pipe and fly in my favorite rocking chair from my cushy southern university post teaching medieval history, but then again, I’m not sure I’d want him around after he set up my overheated southern belle wife played by Gloria Grahame to run off with Gilbert Roland and die in a plane crash.

I don’t smoke a pipe.

I don’t write in a rocking chair.

The married to overheated Gloria Grahame part I like, although I don’t think I’d want to come home and find her in bed with my 13 year old son from a previous marriage like Nicholas Ray did. I wouldn’t want to come home and find her in bed with Nicholas Ray, either.

Might be best just to watch those great old noirs she turns up in.

If you’ve never seen “The Bad & The Beautiful” I strongly recommend it. And NOT just to better understand parts of Wagstaff 3. And that’s the only big fat hint you’re getting at this point, mac.






We’ve Updated Our Privacy Policy May 26, 2018

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Old policy:

New Policy:

You’ve been warned.

In Less Complicated Times, We Found The Answers More Easily May 17, 2018

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Finlaggen Single Malt Scotch Review May 11, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Cooking, Food, General.
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I’m not too sure why I like single malt scotches and have never really liked any of the blended varieties I’ve sampled. Maybe because I can actually pick out flavors in the singles that overcome the harshness of the alcohol. But I’ve even had some single malts that only rated a “meh” in my eyes, and I pegged them as not really being worth adding to the rotation.

Well, after the plug it got in the Trader Joe’s fearless flyer that lands in my mailbox every few months, I got curious about Finlaggen single malt. I read a few reviews on whiskey review sites, and it seemed to be on par with other stuff I’ve liked in the past, like good ol’ Glenlivet, always my reference point for single malt scotch since it was the first one I ever tried, way back in college.

I figured nineteen bucks wasn’t too much to risk to try it, and I gotta say… I think I like it BETTER than Glenlivet. It feels “thinner” on the palate than the bourbons & ryes I’ve had, less syrupy I guess. But what really got me was the nice smokiness of the taste & finish.

A good scotch ought to evoke the smokiness of a nice peaty fire, right? I should picture myself sitting with Groundskeeper Willie in front of one, passing the bottle and trying to keep warm while we await Robert the Bruce to lead us into battle the following dawn against that inbred Longshanks bastard.

And he was played by Patrick McGoohan!

Anyway, this stuff leaves a wonderful smoky finish on the palate, akin to, well…. some really good smoked whitefish. I really can’t describe it any other way, but what began as the sting of alcohol on my tongue ended as the aroma of wonderful smoked fish. And as off-putting as that might sound, it really was wonderful.

I’d sip this stuff straight, and I’ll definitely enjoy it blended with water or seltzer.

AND it was only nineteen bucks at TJs, relatively cheap for a single malt, and certainly a good buy for a solid scotch.

So thumbs up!



WTF? May 8, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football, General.
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  1. Steven Sagal dress-alike contest winner
  2. “I can be more convincing as a bullfighter than Robert Evans was in The Sun Also Rises. THIS kid stays in the Superbowl!”
  3. “Welcome to La Cocina Velazquez, for the finest in tapas. Would you prefer a booth, table, or seats at the bar?”
  4. “Mister Bond, so good of you to drop in.  Perhaps a long overdue tour of my operations towards world domination are in order. My protegé Belichick longs to kill you with his razor tipped hoodie, and I do not plan to disappoint him. And lest you think of escape, you will notice The Gronk stands in your way…”
  5. “Giselle picked this out and said it looks good on me, so no matter how fucking ridiculous you think it is, I’m just gonna smile and nod and not say a fucking thing, okay mac? She makes even more money than I do, and she’s almost as pretty.”

Gonna go with 5…

They’re Coming For Me, I’m Sure May 5, 2018

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“Holy chutzpah!”  to quote Robin.

Current Mood, April 25, 2018 April 25, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in General, Writing.
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Yeah, it’s basically how I feel about the world every day.

Maybe I should shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die.

Anyway, I’m still contemplating/interpreting a weird dream from last night.

I dreamed that Andrew Sarris had co-authored a piece in The New Yorker all about how my books absolutely sucked and illustrated some sort of general downfall of civilization. I can’t remember who the co-author was, but they both quoted from my books at great length to discuss how awful the writing & language was, never mind the plotting, and how I was clearly the worst writer in existence.

I read through the article, which was long and detailed (my dreams can do this, yes), but when I looked at the date of publication, the issue was from May of 2011.

I thought, wait, my first book Cut To Wagstaff didn’t appear until June of 2012.

I double checked the date and thought for a moment, and realized that I must be dreaming.

And then it occurred to me that Sarris didn’t write this nasty article intricately and voluminously describing how me & my books suck…. but that I did.

Me. MY subconscious.

And here I was thinking I was only a self-hating schmuck while I’m awake. Seems there’s no escape.

Sarris died in 2012. I’d like to think my book killed him, and now I’m inspired to include a rant against auteur theory in my next Wagstaff book, book 3 in the series, the writing of which is proceeding nicely these days.

So expect another literary abortion, New Yorker. You snobs. Maybe my next book will kill you all.

Only in my dreams.