In Which I Am Again Baffled By Modern Capitalism


So I was in Meijer’s, remembering to buy sandwich bags and forgetting to buy trash bags, because we’re in one of those occasional phases of life where we don’t have the right number of bags. I came upon a big pile of boxed consumer goods: a Michigan State University Spartans Crock-Pot.

I’m aware, Crock-Pot is an official licensed kitchen-appliance-themed product. We pretend that the non-trademarked name for them is “slow cookers”. And I’m aware that the Spartans are an official licensed university-themed product.

So there I stood, in front of a pile of Spartan Crock-Pots, pondering the box’s promise that this is “Officially Licensed”. Licensed by who? To who? Did someone at Spartan Master Command want the real Crock-Pot, trusting that nobody would buy a Spartan Slow Cooker? Did someone at Crock-Pot Master Command insist that, hey, this is the Lansing/East Lansing Market. We can’t make do with a University of Michigan/Flint Lansing Campus Crock-Pot?

Did they license to each other? Is this the future of capitalism, companies just looking for other companies they can swap licenses with, all in the cause of creating piles of small yet durable consumer goods between the aisles of discount department stores? I could use some help having a reaction to all this. Please come over. I’m by the Surprisingly Many Women’s Soaps aisle, curled up and weeping.

The Regrandest Gift of All


There’s a Sears near us, which isn’t that surprising. There are Sears stores near literally millions of people, left over from the days when they were the anchor stores to malls and serving to this day as spots where the restrooms aren’t too busy and the electronics sections have a different wash of sadness from what Radio Shack offers. But the one by us is a little unusual in that it hasn’t got a mall attached; it’s just free-standing in the midst of a sea of parking lot. A couple weeks back the Sears had put up a sign, declaring their “Regrand Opening”, surprising me with the news that they had been closed, apparently? Also that “Regrand” is a word? I was so curious about this I almost went to the store but I guess I had other stuff to do instead, somehow, and kept on driving home, past the Fish and Chips place that just took off the “Arthur Treacher’s” from the name and otherwise made no alterations to their sign or decor whatsoever, far as I can tell. The Sears still seems to be there, but the sign has gone away.