How Mudbound Director Dee Rees Convinced Mary J. Blige To Join Her Cast

Mudbound,” a sprawling, ambitious drama that debuted on Netflix and in select theaters last Friday, has earned its director, Dee Rees, a deserved crown.

Rees’ first movie, the 2011 coming-of-age jewel “Pariah,” was a festival hit that netted her an Independent Spirit Award and a small but devoted audience. She followed that with 2015′s “Bessie,” the Emmy-winning HBO movie about famed blues singer Bessie Smith. Both showcase a filmmaker with a sharp eye for the nuances of human connection, but “Mudbound” is in a class of its own, chronicling two families ― one black, one white ― on a dusty plantation in World War II–era Mississippi. Racial stratification plagues everyday existence on and off their farmstead, especially once the clans’ sons (played by Jason Mitchell and Garrett Hedlund) become friends. Rees, who adapted Hillary Jordan’s novel of the same name with “ER” writer Virgil Williams, weaves numerous characters’ perspectives together to create a searing, audacious masterwork. 

None of Netflix’s original releases have secured acting, directing or writing nominations from the Oscars, but the acclaim that has greeted “Mudbound” could help to end the streaming service’s dry spell. I talked to Rees in New York in October ― right as awards-season campaigns were first escalating ― about portraying the Jim Crow South, working with Mary J. Blige and the films she thinks are worthy of history classes.

Mary J. Blige and Carey Mulligan star in “Mudbound.”

“Mudbound” was among the toasts of this year’s Sundance Film Festival. It felt very much like your moment in particular ― you were no longer just a director on the rise. Did you feel those good vibes, too?

So that’s exactly why I love doing press. My partner, Sheila, filters stuff to me, or friends will send me bits and pieces. But to me, I try to keep focused on the work and be sobered by the fact that it’s not a meritocracy, this world. If things happen, great. If they don’t, great. At the end of the day, I think, just as a maker, just as an artist, hopefully this makes my way a little bit easier. Or it makes the way of someone else a little bit easier. Or it it’ll make some film exec go watch shorts programs at festivals instead of going to the gala. To me, that would be the big thing ― for the studio system in general to do more interesting material. Go to shorts programs and find a voice there that you’re interested in and make their next film. It’s a reminder that discovery is the thing.

“Pariah” is a micro-budget indie movie that won incredible acclaim and found a second wind in streaming. Maybe the average moviegoer isn’t familiar with it, but in certain circles it’s a very big deal. Were the doors that opened to you after “Pariah” the ones you hoped would open?

I feel like they opened in that I never stopped working. Did the kind of doors open for me that would have happened if another maker made that film? Probably not. You know what I mean? But after “Pariah,” I never wasn’t working in film. Part of it was this deal for Focus Features. I wrote a script for them about a detective ― a Memphis cop ― that they didn’t produce because it wasn’t, you know, big enough. But I got a feature script, and then I got a job writing “Bessie.” It was this whole thing where someone was like, “Oh, wait, actually do you want to direct it? This is written so specifically.” It’s kind of like “Pariah” opened doors. I wrote a pilot for HBO for Viola Davis. It didn’t get produced, but I was always writing, so I was blessed in that, since January 2011, I’ve never stopped working. I’m kind of pushing along on my own. Lee Daniels gave me my first shot in TV.

Did you do an episode of “Empire”?

Yeah, in the second season. It was when it was still new. Lee, like, bullied me into the studio and was like, “Dee is doing this.” I feel like “Pariah” was a blessing. I feel like all of us from that film work. It launched Bradford Young as a DP.

That’s right. He got an Oscar nomination this year for “Arrival.”

Yeah! Exactly. And Adepero Oduye. So “Pariah” launched all of us, I think, in different ways. I’m grateful for the fact that I kept working, that I could build up street cred. It becomes this cumulative effect thing that happens.

Vittorio Zunino Celotto via Getty Images
Dee Rees attends the premiere of “Mudbound” at the BFI London Film Festival on Oct. 5, 2017.

Here we are talking on National Coming Out Day …

Yeah, but then the Mississippi religious freedom act goes into effect today, too.

That’s the way it works, I suppose. But with “Pariah,” you made a movie that’s like a warm blanket in its ability to speak to young queer people’s experiences. And now, with “Mudbound,” you’ve made something far more sweeping. It has a large ensemble, its topicality is grander. What does it mean to you to have given people movies that speak to their history?

I think I’m realizing now that, thematically, there are these ideas that I keep returning back to. Because for me, in many ways, “Mudbound” is about not being able to go back home. You have these soldiers who actually can’t go back home. They’ve been outside of this context, and they’ve seen the world, and they’re asked to step back into these family dynamics that don’t work for them. Also, I’m realizing that friendship is a theme — how friendship can shackle you or hurt you, in a way, because [Jamie, Hedlund’s character] and [Ronsel, Mitchell’s character] have this brotherhood that is unconsummated. This relationship is queer in that way — black and white guys aren’t supposed to be friends, so it’s subversive. Same with “Pariah.” They have this friendship where Alike feels limited by Laura’s idea of butchness or lesbianism or presenting masculinity. I feel like thematically there’s things I keep coming back to, maybe subconsciously.

Since “Pariah” didn’t crack $1 million at the box office, what do you hope for in terms of the legacy of “Mudbound”?

I just want to make films that last. I want “Mudbound” to last. In the same way that “Pariah” is still being discovered, I want “Mudbound” to be a film that, five years from now, is still being discovered. It’s not just a Kleenex film, where you watch it once and you’re done with it. That’s why I was glad Netflix got this film, because, for me, “Pariah” got picked up by Focus and got this small platform release ― it got kept alive because of Netflix. I was aware of that, so I had a different idea: When they got “Mudbound,” I was like, “OK, great, it’s going to be kept alive and be available.” It’ll have this simultaneous global audience, which is a different feeling. In terms of their support of the film, this is the most marketing support I’ve ever had for a film. It feels great to have them actively putting this film in front of audiences. The festival support has been amazing. It’s almost been like a reunion. All the festivals we’ve done so far are the festivals with the “Pariah” wins: Sundance, Toronto, London and then New York. In a weird way, it’s like six years later we’re making the same rounds again.

It’s just interesting for me as a filmmaker. A bigger budget can buy you more background. It can buy you more days ― which, in this case, it didn’t, really ― but it’s not going to buy you better performances. For me, the directing work is still in the performances. It’s still in the blocking, the composition. Money doesn’t buy you better frames, you know what I mean? I want to show that storytelling is storytelling. I’m always attracted to characters and relationships first, and then themes. Even though it happens to be topical, I’m never wanting to be polemic. I’m not preachy or didactic. I’m just going to tell you the story. If you’re into it, cool. To me, you can’t lead with the message because that’s a turn-off. Lead with characters that are interesting, and then people kind of won’t care what happens because they’re interested in people.

Let’s talk about Mary J. Blige, who disappears in the role of Florence. Many people have said they can’t believe it’s her.

Yeah, totally. Her manager, Shakim [Compere], also manages Queen Latifah, so I knew Shakim from “Bessie.” I called Shakim and said, “Hey, do you think there’s any way Mary would want to do this?” I had also gone to CAA, and in the first meeting I said, “I want Mary. Would she be willing?” For me, it was a long shot. It was a Hail Mary. But she said yes.

I just really wanted someone unexpected. I wanted someone for Florence who could have this very reserved exterior but have a very empathetic, alive, vulnerable inner life. With Mary’s music, if you’ve been to her concerts, it’s literally like a therapy session for thousands of people. She’s not just performing; she’s living it. Every verse, she’s reliving the heartbreak or she’s reliving the joy, and you feel it. I needed a character that can make people feel, and I knew she could bring it. She has a beautiful, tear-drop-shaped scar, and I wanted to use it, this perpetual tear. Actresses, especially with huge ones, it’s rare that they’ll will want to strip down. We do this very naturalistic makeup look on her: no lashes, no nails, no hair. Mary’s bold enough and brave enough to go there. Most actresses would be like, “Nope, I still need my wig.”

Was that part of your original pitch to Mary?

Yeah. Well, I kind of waited until a little bit later to say it to her. I remember the first day she walked into my office. I was a little bit starstruck, like, “Oh my god,” because she’s, like, Mary. She’s amazing. We just talked about it. I just wanted her to feel safe. I wanted to talk to her as an actress and let her feel comfortable in being able to be vulnerable and allow herself to be seen. She was amazing with that.

We did these little acting exercises. It was the same way with “Pariah,” in terms of the performances. I took these one-on-one pairings. I did Mary J. Blige and Carey Mulligan. We did repetition things. “Look at each other in the eyes.” For me, the core of that relationship was power, so I had them repeat it back and forth: “You have the power.” “No, you have the power.” That was a way to break the ice. It starts them looking at each other. They’re just holding eye contact, which I think is everything. It’s awkward, it’s uncomfortable, then you start laughing. It’s just being seen and seeing another person. Just looking at each other is huge.

Same thing with Mary J. Blige and Jason Mitchell. I’d seen Jason in “Straight Outta Compton,” and I loved his performance as Eazy-E. I grew up listening to the bootleg tapes because my parents wouldn’t buy it because of the parental advisory. I thought I knew the story [of N.W.A.], but through him I realized I didn’t know the story at all. I didn’t understand who this person was at all, and the fact that he’d do that, in the scene where he’s in the hospital dying of AIDS and hugging this man and showing that male vulnerability. I knew he could be Ronsel, who’s very square and stony. He’s this solid guy who, at the end of the day, is very sensitive and seeing, in a way. Anyway, I had them stand with each other, Mary saying over and over again, “You’re making a mistake”; Jason saying, “No, I’m not.” It’s just letting the actors talk to each other in character off-script. That’s what I find interesting.

Jason Mitchell and Garrett Hedlund star in “Mudbound.”

At what point did you do those exercises? On the set?

No, it’s in my office, in prep, during pre-production. That’s my idea of rehearsals. I think I did it over two days, these different pairings. We’d meet in my office and close the door — it was just me and the actors. I’m not drilling them on lines, I’m not rehearsing the words. I feel like if we can get the subtext of it, then I’m trusting you’re going to know the text. So, understand the subtext, and the text will almost be — not inconsequential, but you have to know why you’re there, and you have to really believe it and feel it. Everything else is informed by that.

People have said this movie should be taught in history classes.

Yeah, if that happens, I just don’t want this to be turned into a didactic thing.

Right. “Selma” got the same attention a couple of years ago, but that was a historical drama.

Right. I think hopefully the takeaway is that history doesn’t just happen to us. We’re creating it; we’re making it. We’re not passive — we are actors in our own story, so it’s just being aware of how we’re acting and the ideas we’ve inherited. It’s instructive maybe, but it’s not didactic in that way. Understand these relationships, maybe to the extent that it makes you ask, “Hey, what was my grandpa like, or how did he get what he got? How did my parents get what they got?”

Even if your parents came over from Italy with $2 in their pocket — if that’s your story, then why did we need to own slaves? But it’s like, OK, but if the narrative of coming over with $2 in your pocket is a noble narrative, then why can’t someone come from Belize with $2 in his pocket? If that’s a noble story, then use that knowledge to say, “Wait a minute, our ideas about immigration are flawed, because we all have this immigration story, which we brag about now.” We should be welcoming other people who are coming with $2 and a dream.

It’s that kind of interrogation of our own personal histories and how we came to have what we have and be where we are. It’s being mindful of what we’re maybe unconsciously passing on to others. I think inheritance is a more expansive way to talk about it. In history classes, this is not just to me, like, “This is a picture of Jim Crow South.” It’s meant to be about all those things about how we’re actors and we can’t just stand there and watch things.

If you were to devise a syllabus of movies taught in history courses, what would would be on it?

I like “Killer of Sheep,” by Charles Burnett, because even before [the filmmaking movement] Dogme 95, it’s a way of filmmaking that was raw and honest and feeling. It was about a way of life. I like “Midnight Cowboy,” just because I like it. It feels like it’s about New York and this kind of ingenue in a package you don’t expect. He’s this big, hulking hunk of a guy. It’s about naiveté and the city. I like “Network” because of how fast it moves, and the dialogue, just the feeling of it. What else do I love? I love “A Woman Under the Influence” by John Cassavetes, because, again, I love that style where I can never hear the lines and you don’t think of the script.

It’s those movies that I love, where you can just feel something in them and it’s not this down-your-throat thing. I was also going to say “Blood Simple” or “Raising Arizona,” even. It’s a goofy Coen brothers film, but it’s fun. It was the birth of Nicolas Cage, when movies used to launch people before they were stars. It’s how cinema can be about discovery — John Goodman and those guys. I watch a lot of stuff. People ask “what are your favorite films,” and the answer is, there’s so many. In terms of a syllabus, I would just choose films that show life that you haven’t seen, or different parts of life that you haven’t seen, or people we haven’t seen.

I love that, because the temptation might be to name a slew of biopics, adaptations of historical court cases, fact-based fodder.

Right. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But, like, “Network” talks about the industry and the manufacturing of news ― the spectacle. They could release that today, and it would be like, “Oh my god, this is happening now.”

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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Trump’s global credibility is shot

(CNN)No, the entire world is not obsessed with Donald Trump, but you have to travel far to reach a place where people are not following closely — and worrying deeply — about what’s happening in Washington.

I must admit, after months of a Trump-heavy news diet, it was startling to look at the morning newspaper and see an entire front page without a single mention of the word “Trump.”
Before driving off to the provinces, I scanned the bustling skyline of Colombo, with its multiple, ambitious projects, many of them built, financed and largely owned by China, which sees in this country a strategic point of influence in its expanding global footprint. It’s hard to avoid the impression that while Americans are understandably focused on what’s happening at home, the rest of the world is moving fast to make gains on the distracted superpower.
    And yet, it’s not only Americans who are fascinated with US politics. A year ago, as I informally surveyed people in a number of countries about the US election, Sri Lanka was the only place where I found Trump supporters. But what about now?
    Along my way to the north, Suranga Fernando, who lives in the town of Negombo, not far from Colombo, commented, “Trump is crazy, no?”
    And Fernando isn’t alone in his sentiment. The troubling phenomenon is far reaching. Pew research surveyed 37 countries and found a widespread collapse of trust in the US president and in the United States. A median of just 22% said they have confidence in Trump to do the right thing in world affairs, a jaw-dropping collapse from the 64% who trusted the US president at the end of the Obama presidency.
    A stunning 74% said they have little or no confidence in Trump, up from just 23% who didn’t trust Obama. Mistrust in the US leader extended to confidence in the United States, with favorable views of the United States plummeting around the world from 64% to 49% since Trump became president.
    The President’s Wednesday announcement that the United States would now acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel isn’t likely to improve his ratings. Allies across Europe and the Middle East — from the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia — warned Trump against it. And yet, Trump ignored them, choosing to make an announcement they said would prove harmful.
    And though Sri Lanka wasn’t included in the Pew survey, I found many Sri Lankans shared similar concerns to Fernando’s. In Jaffna, the North’s capital, Jathu Jathurshan, a local businessman, told me he hasn’t made up his mind about Trump, but he worries, especially regarding North Korea. “The way he’s talking is not the proper way,” he said, “I think he wants a war.”
    In a country divided by ethnic and religious differences, some value Trump’s strong words against Muslims and his vow to defeat terrorists. Rukshan Kasthuri, a marketing expert, admires Trump’s own marketing prowess, which led to electoral victory, and he likes Trump’s goal to “eradicate Muslim terrorists from the world.” But Kasthuri admits he has not heard about the Russia investigation or the controversial tweets that came after the election. Others have.

      British politicians lash out at Trump

    But Trump’s reposting of racist anti-Muslim videos last week made an impression in a country that endured nearly three decades of a civil war pitting the separatist terrorist group known as the Tamil Tigers, mostly-Hindu and ethnic Tamil, against forces of the central government, mostly Buddhist and ethnic Sinhalese, a conflict whose full tally will likely never be known. Some detailed accounts put the number of dead above 100,000 even before the final government offensive, which the United Nations says left another 40,000 dead.
    Writing in Sri Lanka’s prominent Daily Mirror, Ahilan Kadirgamar, a Tamil activist and researcher, described the “lunatic tirades of Trump,” along with the rise of nationalism in Europe, and the muscular projects of China as a warning sign. “Nationalism requires an enemy,” he noted, as Sri Lankans have seen, with “disastrous consequences.”
    Gehan Gunatilleke, a Sri Lankan human rights lawyer and research director at Verité Research, an independent Sri Lankan think tank, told me Trump’s retweet of the racist videos “amounts to advocacy of racial/religious hatred,” adding that “the Trump presidency has delegitimized the US among Sri Lankans in an unprecedented way.”
    Observers here are weighing the implications of Trump’s words. Harinda Vidanage, director of a local think tank, says Trump is “systematically undoing” the achievements of a liberal world. His feud with the United Kingdom after posting the vile videos undermines the until-now impregnable “special relationship” between the United States and Britain. As a result, he said, countries that had relied on the United States will “rethink or even recalibrate their own alignments.” Trump’s “scathing attack on its ultimate friend,” he notes, “harms the United States and its global standing.”
    And news of Trump’s tweets of false information are traveling the world.
    The Dutch quickly rejected Trump’s tweet of a video that was supposed to be a Muslim attacking a Dutch boy in crutches. “Facts do matter,” said the Dutch Embassy. The attacker was not Muslim. He was born and raised in the Netherlands, and was arrested over the attack.
    Brazil’s O Globo, in multiple articles, said plainly that the President of the United States tweeted videos with false information, “inciting prejudice against Muslims.” A similar message spread in the rest of the continent and beyond.
    In India, just north of Sri Lanka, the tweetstorm, including Trump’s aggressive retort against British Prime Minister Theresa May, received widespread attention. Trump, explained the Hindustan Times, stoked the same anti-Islam sentiments he had fanned during the campaign, turning away from important items of his agenda (including North Korea) to promote videos from a British hate-monger.
    Does it matter that far-away nations are looking at the American President, noting his assaults on the truth, on the media, on his allies — and on tolerance and coexistence?
    Without a doubt, it does. It matters that nation-states now view the United States as an increasingly unreliable country, with an untrustworthy president. That emerging image of America will affect US influence in the world, eroding its strategic positing and diminishing the strength of American values, weakening those fighting to create more democratic societies where they live and simultaneously strengthening the hand of America’s authoritarian rivals.

    Join us on Twitter and Facebook

    Consider Nigeria, pondering whether it should ally itself economically, strategically and politically with a rising China or with the US.
    The words and actions of an America president are working their way across vast distances, slowly seeping across oceans, jungles, languages and cultures. Trump may claim people now respect America, but the truth is very different. The more people hear about a president who promotes discord and distorts the truth, the less they respect and trust the United States.
    Correction: The original version of this piece misidentified Suranga Fernando as female. The piece has been corrected to reflect he is male.

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    ‘Justice League’ performs way below expectations at the box office

    Only in the modern era of superhero films could a $96 million opening weekend be considered anything less than impressive, but that’s the situation Warner Bros. and DC’s “Justice League” is in.

    The big budget superhero mashup came in well-under expectations, which had pegged it for a $110 million launch in North American theaters. If studio estimates hold it will also have the dubious distinction of being the lowest opening film in the DC Extended Universe.

    It has been a rollercoaster for the DC Universe since “Man of Steel” kicked off the comic book franchise in 2013, with films battling high expectations, critical reviews and the impossible standard of competing against the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” may have been a critical dud in early 2016, but it still opened to $166 million and went on to net $873.3 million worldwide by the end of its run.

    “Justice League” comes on the heels of the widely well-received “Wonder Woman,” the first DCEU film to score with both critics and audiences, and reunites Ben Affleck’s Batman and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman to fight a new threat facing earth while introducing new characters like Ezra Miller’s The Flash, Jason Momoa’s Aquaman and Ray Fisher’s Cyborg. “Justice League” didn’t impress critics, but neither did “Batman v Superman” or “Suicide Squad,” which still managed to earn $133.7 million out of the gates.

    Warner Bros. is remaining optimistic about “Justice League’s” prospects, even with the lower-than-expected launch against a production budget that’s reported to be in the $250-$300 million range (which doesn’t include marketing expenses).

    “I did have a higher expectation for the three days,” said Jeff Goldstein, who heads up domestic distribution for Warner Bros. “(But) this is a big vacation week and we have an opportunity to get a big audience to see us in a different pattern.”

    Goldstein said he is also encouraged by a few factors including the overall B+ CinemaScore, the fact that women, who accounted for 42 percent of the audience, gave it an A- overall and that Saturday earnings were up from Friday’s.

    “Clearly there is interest in the movie,” Goldstein said.

    One film that did have a heroic showing this weekend is “Wonder,” an adaptation of R.J. Palacio’s novel about a child with a facial deformity that stars Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay. The family-friendly drama opened in second place with $27.1 million against a $20 million production budget and could be on its way to becoming a sleeper hit. Lionsgate distributed the film, which was financed and produced by Participant Media.

    “Any time you have a big superhero movie opening, a movie like ‘Wonder’ could be overshadowed, but it’s one of the brightest spots of the weekend,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst for comScore. “This could be a $100 million movie as people get the word out.”

    Disney and Marvel’s “Thor: Ragnarok” fell to third place in weekend three with $21.8 million, bringing its North American total to $247.4 million. “Daddy’s Home 2” took fourth with $14.8 million and “Murder on the Orient Express” landed in fifth with $13.8 million. Both are in their second weekend in theaters.

    Opening outside of the top 10, the faith-based animated film “The Star,” from Sony’s AFFIRM label, took sixth place with $10 million. And both “Lady Bird” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” continue to thrive in their expansions.

    The Thanksgiving holiday should not be discounted either in its potential to boost a film’s earnings, and the only, albeit formidable, competition will be from Disney and Pixar’s latest “Coco.”

    “Thanksgiving is the perfect second weekend for any movie,” Dergarabedian said. “Including ‘Justice League.'”

    Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to comScore. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

    1.”Justice League,” $96 million.

    2.”Wonder,” $27.1 million.

    3.”Thor: Ragnarok,” $21.8 million.

    4.”Daddy’s Home 2,” $14.8 million.

    5.”Murder on the Orient Express,” $13.8 million.

    6.”The Star,” $10 million.

    7.”A Bad Moms Christmas,” $6.9 million.

    8.”Lady Bird,’ $2.5 million.

    9.”Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” $1.1 million.

    10.”Jigsaw,” $1.1 million.

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    How To Explain Santa To Your Child, From Parents Who’ve Been There

    As kids who believe in Santa grow up, their parents face a couple of difficult questions: Will this be the year they stop believing? And how do I explain Mr. Claus to them without taking away the “magic” of the holiday season?

    We asked the HuffPost Parents community if they’ve tackled the “Santa talk” with their children. While some moms and dads who celebrate Christmas said they never told their kids that a man came down the chimney to leave them presents (and encouraged their little ones to not spoil the spirit of giving for others), some parents offered lovely explanations of how they talked to their kids about jolly old St. Nick.

    Here are 11 ways parents have explained Santa to their kids (and a few funny reactions to boot).

    He lives in the thoughts and the hearts of everyone who does something selfless for another person.

    “I told my children Santa is real, but not in the way that we think of as real. He lives in the thoughts and the hearts of everyone who does something selfless for another person. With that act, they become the essence of what we know to be Santa. My kids are in their 20s now and if you ask them, they will proudly say they believe in Santa.”

    ― Angela Robbins

    Well, it’s a fun magic to add to Christmas.

    “My oldest was 8 and got curious so he started to press for information. After telling him it was a choice to believe or not to believe, and asking him, ‘What do you think and feel about it?’ he responded that he thought it was pretend. He said he felt that his dad and I were Santa. My reply was, ‘Well, it’s a fun magic to add to Christmas. And Dad and I love to surprise you on Christmas morning. And your sisters still think Santa’s coming, so help us keep the magic going.’ With that he has been awesome. He still plays along to keep the surprise and magic of Christmas morning.”

    ― Teresa Ingram

    He seemed relieved and wanted confirmation of his thoughts.

    “My 9-year-old asked, ‘Is Santa real? It’s OK if the answer is no.’ I told him no, that it was Mom and Dad filling the stockings and buying the presents, but he is real in the sense that he is a symbol of Christmas, a symbol of giving. We also tackled the Elf on the Shelf, Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. He seemed relieved and wanted confirmation of his thoughts, but told me that we can still hide the elf and I can still mark some presents from Santa!”

    ― Jessica Waagner

    We do Santa’s job in order to continue to spread his message of hope, spirit and love.

    “My then 10-year-old asked during his younger brother’s karate class. At first, I answered as I had before, ‘What do you think?’ And he said, ‘I don’t know.’

    “After his brother went to bed, my husband and I talked to him one-on-one. I told him, ‘Yes, we put your gifts in your stocking.’ He started crying. I said, ‘But that does not make Daddy or me Santa. We do Santa’s job in order to continue to spread his message of hope, spirit and love. So yes, we put the presents in your stockings, but we are not Santa.’ We also talked about the history of Santa (he’s my history buff) and he handled it all really well.”

    ― Meaghan Greenleaf Wildes

    I was honest with him and his brother, but also made them promise not to ruin it for anyone else. 

    “My 8-year-old son was having doubts last year so to test his theory, he hid Santa’s cookies. He said if they weren’t eaten, then he would know Santa wasn’t real. I spent an hour searching in the middle of the night for those darn cookies, but never could find them. I told him that maybe Santa just didn’t want to look for them or thought he didn’t make any.

    Finally about six months later, he asked me flat-out and I was honest with him and his brother, but also made them promise not to ruin it for anyone else. Then it occurred to them a few weeks ago ― how in the world did Mom and Dad get all those presents set up and keep all those secrets and pick out such cool presents? I think I impressed them.”

    ― Teri Davis

    It’s something they can say to a friend who might try and spoil Santa for them. 

    “I’m a parent of four kids, but also a fourth-grade teacher. Every year there are questions at school about Santa. My standard response for these 9- and 10-year-olds is, ‘If you believe in Santa, he believes in you.’ It seems to work. And it’s something they can say to a friend who might try and spoil Santa for them.” 

    ― Vicki Thompson Paris

    She’s now Santa and the Tooth Fairy for her sister.

    “I had the talk with my daughter about the spirit of giving and becoming a Santa herself. She was about to be 8, and she was already saying he’s not real and that she knew it already. I figured she heard it from classmates. She had me so convinced telling every member of our family that she knew, that one night, I decided to show her how other countries and cultures view Santa and his origin, before asking her to become a Santa for someone else.

    In the end, I asked her if she enjoyed it while it lasted and if she felt we should continue the tales for her little sister who’s 2. She thought about it for a moment and replied that even though she didn’t like that we lied to her about the Tooth Fairy and Santa, she did like staying up and trying to catch them in their magic, so she’s now Santa and the Tooth Fairy for her sister, as she feels I am not convincing enough. She believes that she can conceal her magical identity better than I did for her.”

    ― Jenn Aguilar

    He wrapped it up with a very gentle, “Thank you for telling me the truth about Santa, Mommy.”

    “One night, as I was tucking in my sweet little one, he asked, ‘Is Santa real?’ I stopped for a second, then asked what he believed. ‘Some people say he’s not, but I’ve seen him. But I think you, me, Buela (my mom), and my cousins are the only ones left who believe.’

    I then started telling him that a long time ago, there was a man who would give gifts to children, and his spirit lives on in each of us to this day (slight paraphrase). After a few blinks, he just started crying. ‘You mean Santa is dead?!’ he said.

    Ugh. I had one chance, and I blew it. We talked for a bit, and he calmed down. He wrapped it up with a very gentle, ‘Thank you for telling me the truth about Santa, Mommy. I love you.’ Whew.”

    ― Selma Altas

    This makes them a part of the magic and fun because what is better than getting to be Santa?

    “We transition from belief in Santa to becoming an elf, helping to instill the spirit of giving, love, and Christmas by becoming part of the magic. Once one of our children had expressed they were no longer a believer in Santa, they were let in on the secret in order to help keep the magic alive for the next sibling. We emphasize how important it is to not deflate the younger sibling’s belief, and allow the older child to participate in hiding the mischievous elf or filling stockings. This makes them a part of the magic and fun because what is better than getting to be Santa? It has worked well so far. I’ve got one kiddo to go!” 

    ― Kendra Votava

    It’s up to you to believe in magic and in the spirit of giving, no matter what that looks like on the TV screen or in the stores.

    “When my daughter was very young, she asked me to confirm if some of her friends were right about Santa not being real. I asked her back, ‘Should we stop giving and being kind to people if we find out Santa’s just a marketing trick?’ She said, ‘No.’ Well, that’s your answer right there. It’s up to you to believe in magic and in the spirit of giving, no matter what that looks like on the TV screen or in the stores.

    Now she is almost 11 and the other day said to me, ‘Mom, how could I believe you’d allow an old man to watch me when I am sleeping and let a stranger come into our house at night?’ And I said, ‘Of course I would not do that, Sonia, because Santa couldn’t possibly be just an ordinary guy. He is the spirit of giving, remember?’ She went ahead and wrote her letter to Santa, but it may be for the last time ever, so I’d better go look for that virtual reality thingy she asked for.”

    ― Ana Nita

    They know he doesn’t exist as a person.

    “We’ve told them that we are all Santa when we give our time, money or gifts to others. They know he doesn’t exist as a person, but that he is the spirit of Christmas.”

    ― Mirna Sierra-Duchemin 

    These answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.

    Read more:

    Ice cream shop’s oversexed cow mascot goes viral

    An ice cream shop in Montclair, New Jersey, is going viral this week after locals stumbled across the shop’s mascot, which features a cow bending over and showing off her bare rear.

    Dairy Air Ice Cream Co. first came under fire after Amy Tingle, a nearby business owner in the town, shared an open letter on Facebook condemning the mascot. That’s because Dairy Air features a blonde anthropomorphic cow with a beret and pigtails in a compromising position as the shop’s primary in-store logo.

    “It is offensive and sickening,” Tingle said of the objectified cow, reports. “A hyper-sexualized, obviously female cow with her ass upended and poking through a circle, tail raised up, waiting for what? I’m not sure, but I do know that I am repulsed and offended.”

    Tingle’s original post, which is now private, also compared the logo to President Donald Trump’s election.

    “This kind of marketing scheme is the reason we currently have a sexual predator in the White House,” she argued.

    The controversy didn’t stop after Tingle’s letter, either. One report from Montclair Local reveals that the store uses some pretty insensitive rear end puns for its ice cream flavors, including “Bumm Rush,” “Sweet Cheeks and Chocolate,” “Spankin’ Strawberry Moon,” “Muffin-Top Money Maker,” and perhaps most questionable of all, “Oprah’s Favorite Fanny.”

    While the ice cream flavors will likely remain a rather uncomfortable family-friendly experience, it looks like the cow’s rear-exposing days will soon be over. Shortly after Dairy Air owner Anthony Tortoriello visited Tingle and her partner to defend himself, store manager Natalie DeRosa revealed the cow will lose some of her sexualization amid the backlash.

    “We have heard the complaints,” she said over Facebook, according to “We take them very seriously and we are acting to change the cow to be more fun and less sexy. Our goal was always fun and not sexy.”

    That, of course, didn’t stop Dairy Air’s sexy-and-not-fun cow from going viral.

    The whole situation inspired one Twitter user to contact Oprah about her name being used as a flavor.

    And one self-starter is even trying to make a name for himself amid all the chaos.

    It’s unclear what will happen to the sexy cow once she’s given a rework. But it’s safe to say Dairy Air Ice Cream’s reputation will proceed itself in Montclair, even after the shop’s rear-exposing mascot gets a butt reduction.

    H/T the Cut

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    Was the man who discovered KFC’s big Twitter stunt a PR plant?

    Back in October, the Daily Dot reported that a man named Mike Edgette discovered something peculiar about the KFC Twitter account. The fast food chain only followed eleven other accounts: All five Spice Girls and six guys named Herb. In other words, eleven herbs and spices.

    People on Twitter were duly impressed, retweeting the discovery over 300,000 times and liking it over 700,000, more than a million people combined.

    Edgette then sat back and, not so patiently, waited for his reward to roll in.

    Which, eventually, it did.

    His prize? A painting of himself with Colonel Sanders and an endorsement on LinkedIn.

    And possibly a bunch of money? At least that’s one theory making the rounds online. After the painting hit the front page of Reddit, users said they smelled a conspiracy.

    “100% this entire thing is a full set up and this wasn’t some random guy who just happened to discover the 11 Twitter followers of KFC” wrote redditor “your-fish-monger”

    screengrab via reddit

    He points out that Edgette works for a PR firm called TallGrass Public Relations and that he’s made other post about Yum! Brand companies (Yum! Brands is KFC’s parent company, which also owns Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and WingStreet).

    TallGrass, however, is not directly affiliated with KFC or Yum! Brands. The whole idea of KFC’s Twitter account only following eleven herbs and spices was actually dreamed up by mega-advertising firm Wieden+Kennedy, which represents such brands as Coca-Cola and Old Spice.

    “We planted this on Twitter over a month ago,” Freddie Powell, creative director at Wieden+Kennedy, said in a statement released to AdWeek. “Frankly, we weren’t sure if anybody was going to find it. Sometimes you just have to put stuff out into the universe and cross your fingers that the internet will work its magic.”

    So, at least according to the company that created the viral ad, no one, including Edgette was in on the gag.

    That hasn’t stopped people on Twitter from calling foul. For his part, Edgette has also denied being on the payroll of either KFC or Wieden+Kennedy.

    KFC’s digital marketing manager, Bentley McBentleson, (which, to add to the conspiracy talk, has a name that totally sounds made up) also says that claims of a hoax are false.

    Wieden+Kennedy and TallGrass have worked together at least once in the past. When TallGrass created a press release for Wiredrive, a “media assets management service,” Wieden+Kennedy was one of the companies it quoted in the release.

    But people have also pointed out that Edgette wasn’t actually the first to discover the eleven herbs and spices Easter egg.

    A woman named Laurel pointed it out four days before Edgette.

    And DJ Chaz Kangas found it almost as soon as it happened.

    Why did KFC ignore these tweets but not Edgette’s? Maybe they never saw Laurel’s because she didn’t tag them. Maybe they decided Kangas’ was too soon to be fun. Or maybe, say skeptics, they wanted to go with an inside guy so they could control the marketing.

    So what’s really going on here? Did Edgette, who just happens to work for a PR firm, stumble across KFC’s subtle joke and post a tweet about it that went viral, or is he in cahoots with big chicken? Could he have been tipped off by a friend?

    Just like the secret blend of eleven herbs and spices, it will have to remain a mystery… for now.

    Read more:

    Is the $35 Billion Rehab Industry Ready for a Disruption?

    The rehab industry needs to be disrupted the same way Uber disrupted the taxi cab industry, says treatment reform advocate and Hollywood producer Scott Steindorff, who is working with other leaders in the industry to modernize a field currently engulfed in crisis yet still entrenched in often-irrelevant-to-opioid-addict principles developed in the 1930s from the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous.

    Im 34 years sober, incredibly connected in the recovery world and when I was asked three months ago, where should I send my nephew, I said, I dont know. Because rehab doesnt work. Youre taking a lot of money, giving a lot of people a lot of false hope and what I have found consistently across the map is a high failure rate of people staying sober after rehab.

    What does a prominent rehab spokesperson have to say about these incendiary claims? Responds Nick Motu, vice president at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, the nations largest non-profit treatment organization: Well, you have to define what failure isfor instance, if you define failure as a relapse. But thats not how we define failure. Relapse can be part of the disease process, and unfortunately like any other disease, relapses will happen. However, we strive for abstinence. Thats our ultimate goal.

    In todays recovery industry, however, what many people think of as rehab is about as far from the prestigious environment of the Betty Ford Center as you can get. Unspeakable horrors abound: In May, a drug-treatment provider named Kenny Chatman received a 27 -year sentence for turning his patients into prostitutes, engaging in human trafficking, arranging rapes from paying customers and allowing anyone to do drugs in his sober homes as long he could keep bilking insurance companies for millions of dollars. The father of one of his victims called Chatman worse than a pedophile.

    With no experience in drug treatment, Chatman opened his first sober home in 2012, and Floridas Department of Children and Families allowed him to open a second treatment facility last year. Unwittingly, Chatmans lawyer Saam Zangeneh articulated a defense for his client that neatly summarizes the crisis the addiction treatment industry currently faces nationwide: He walked into an industry that is infected. He became another infected member.

    But can the bloated-by-fraud, saturated-by-shady-marketing, corrupted-by-billions-in-funds rehab industrysick and in crisisultimately find the recovery it needs?

    That remains to be seen. But for now, identifying what many outsiders have no idea is even happening (and thereby fall victim to because of their lack of knowledge, when say, a loved one needs treatment) is at the very least a start.

    • Most central to the disruption underway, the opioid epidemic has now reached historic proportions, claiming 91 lives a day and causing an estimated 142 overdoses daily. For perspective, consider what Mark Chalos, a lawyer counseling Tennessee counties considering lawsuits, told about the extent of the problem: Some places can no longer afford the autopsies for every death that might be an overdose, so he surmises the official count is just the floor.
    • More than 100 states and cities are now suing the drug companies and distributors that have introduced opioids into the market (with the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimating that 75 percent of people who enter treatment for heroin first took an opioid legally from a doctors script). These civil cases argue the marketing is deceptive, with not enough clarity as to how addictive pills can be. Drug companies refute these claims saying they have taken steps to prevent addiction and fight overdoses. Purdue Pharma gave a statement to NBC News saying, We are an industry leader in the development of abuse-deterrent technology, advocating for the use of prescription drug monitoring programs and supporting access to Naloxoneall important components for combating the opioid crisis.
    • Medication-assisted-treatment is changing the playing field, but still faces stigma. While President Donald Trump is being criticized for his toothless national emergency announcement, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is being praised for supporting expansion of long-term medication-assisted treatment that wards off opioid-specific withdrawal. (This science-based, non-AA-focused approach is an acknowledgement that the half a million opioid deaths over the last two decades often require a different medication-backed solution beyond just a Higher Power.)
    • But perhaps most disruptive (definitely the most shocking) in rehab headlines of late, horrific scandal after horrific scandal has continued to plague the treatment industryparticularly in Southern California, which earned the nickname Rehab Riviera in a groundbreaking series by the Orange Country Registerand in South Florida, where the Palm Beach Post exposed the Gold Rush.

    A lot of bad players are sucking up as much business as they can and putting people through the revolving doors of treatment, observes rehab reform advocate Ryan Hampton. It used to be, You want to go to treatment? Lets go to Betty Ford. Now there are thousands of options to go to. Its a cesspool. Nobody knows if theyre going to a good place or not. Its insane, and its sad, and its just the Wild, Wild West.

    When asked if these problems are a pressing issue for Hazelden Betty Ford, spokesman Motu said Absolutely. We have witnessed first-hand some of the issues, and its not fair to the consumer, and thats ultimately who were trying to protect here. It is a concern that peoples experience at some of these facilities is not a quality experience, and as a result, their recovery is inhibited and sometimes fails. And failure can either be a relapse or they can die.

    While the Betty Ford Center has experienced its fair share of upheaval over the years (from infighting to merger to more recent credit rating changes), Motu says that the foundation is now in more of a transition than a disruptionat least for their 16 facilities nationwidewhich are seeing positive results from efforts such as medication-assisted treatment.

    We have a program called Cor-12 that we started about four and a half years ago and preliminary results show that after six months, 72 percent of the patients that are involved in that opioid addiction treatment program are abstinent, Motu says. So we feel were delivering great value.

    Rehab veterans say they do not recognize the industry they see today.

    I went to rehab in 2000, and it saved my life, says Anna David, New York Times bestseller author of six books about recovery and CEO of, which helps people tell their stories about getting clean.

    I would not be sober without rehab. Thats what led me to AA, and I would not be sober without AA. That is not the experience of many people I know who leave rehab today because the industry is so rife with immorality. I think what happened is that many people who went to rehab got 30 days of sobriety, realized how much money people were making and then got the bright idea to start their own rehabs. Some of these are good people. Some are in it purely for the money, and that's corrupted everything.

    Rehab recovery leader Brad Lamm, who created the Fair Care Promise to provide an ethical pledge for treatment providers on his website, points to how the challenging environment the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation now faces is representative of the disruption currently underway for the greater industry.

    They operated under this old-school model, Lamm says. They had excellent care. They had an excellent figurehead in Betty Ford. They didnt do a lot of marketing. She was very involved in the alumni so they had all these little disciples all over the world where clients were coming in. It was world-class, all-cash pay. What they did worked for a long time, but everything has changed.

    Its not that Hazelden Betty Ford is now declining in quality of carebut like so many other players in the treatment industry space, they are dealing with what rehab reform activist Hampton calls a perfect storm of circumstances affecting the industry.

    • First, the Affordable Care Act and Parity (as it is commonly shorthanded) means a lot more insurance dollars are available for addiction. On the other hand, for facilities such as the Betty Ford Center, once flush with thousands of out-of-pocket dollars for rehab, insurance dollars are more hard-won monies than in the past when patients forked over several tens of thousands of dollars without any insurance haggling required.
    • Second, specifically in California (where the original Betty Ford Center is based), there is access to insurance almost instantly thanks to Covered California.
    • Third, more people are in need of treatment than ever before thanks to the opioid crisis, with 2 million Americans addicted to prescription opioids and at least 1 million to heroin, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
    • Fourth, the $35 billion rehab industry is increasingly being exploited by individuals who are taking advantage of those who need help the most. (For an excellent glimpse into these issues, the 2015 documentary The Business of Recoverylays out a chilling case for a broken, ailing, desperately in-need-of-its-own-rehab rehab system.)

    Motu agrees all four challenges are affecting Hazelden Betty Fords changing scope of care, including the unprecedented demand as the opioid crisis worsens. He says about 40 percent of patients of about 7,000 annually now coming in for residential care face some kind of opioid use disorder. But the biggest issue the foundation faces, Motu says, is in having to seemingly overnight adjust to the rapid-fire insurance utilization model for care. He acknowledges: I would say we are finally catching up with the mainstream business models. We were an outlier for many years because it was self-pay.

    Now that the majority of Hazelden Betty Fords clientele is covered by insurance, it has led to inevitable belt-tightening measures, Motu says, although not in the realm of patient services. Indeed, when it comes to patient care, their facilities are at currently at between 90 and 95 percent capacity.

    However, in order to treat more people, we had to go to where their funding sources were, and more and more, that is insurance, he says. Most people coming to us, 93 percent, are covered by insurance, and as a result, we have to craft contracts with those insurance companies that essentially offer our services at a discount So yes we have had to tighten up our ship But the demand for our services is growing at a very aggressive clip The demand is not waning. In fact, its growing.

    One downside to the rehab industrys growth spurt nationwide is that oversight is so limited.

    While 29 states have rehab reform legislation in place (including licensure and prohibition of patient brokering where facilities pay a referral fee to junkie hunters), SB636, a bill proposed to address the issue in hard-hit California is stalledeven as the state is increasingly not just facing disruption, but often utter chaos. (Motu says that Hazelden Betty Ford favors Californias proposed legislationindeed any legislationthat begins to tighten the regulation around California treatment providers.)

    Activists such as Hampton are determined to fight Californias current stagnancy in rehab reform. Working with Recovery Reform Now, he is supporting their just-announced push to put pressure on the California legislature in January to introduce a legislative package the same way that Florida did on a massive scale recently, including moving patient brokering from an insurance violation to a RICO act.

    I got led into this as a result of a lot of my friends being brokered, Hampton says. Im seeing my friends traded like horses and their insurance plans being left for carcasses, and I was like, Oh my God, what is going on here? And its completely legal in California.

    As an activist determined to bring attention to the opioid crisis, he tells his story as an example of how the epidemic can affect anyone whos ever visited a doctors office.

    In 1999, Hampton had a bright future in politics and a great job working for the Clinton administration. Four years later, an ankle injury led him to receive a doctors prescription for Oxycodone. This resulted in a decade-long path of addiction where he was eventually cut off from legal opioids because he was placed in a drug-seeking registry. It took him only an instant to decide he would turn to street heroin to ease the all-consuming, brain-hijacking craving of opioid withdrawal.

    Now three years sober, Hampton cautions people to be wary of the new treatment options they may find via a simple Google search, while positioning the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation as a glimmer of hope in an increasingly sleazy industry driven by profit over patient.

    Bad actors in the treatment industry have popped up literally overnight, Hampton says. Recently, weve seen Florida crack down on it. Massachusetts has cracked down on it, but now what has happened is that because California is so lax and the laws are so outdated when it comes to addiction treatment marketing, many of these shady operators have taken up shop in California, and Betty Fordwhich runs a very ethical programis having to compete with an industry where there is this massive patient brokering going on with people being traded like horses, there is dishonest marketing and sober living centers are popping up overnight and sometimes being run by convicted felons who have a history of insurance fraud.

    Disruption is necessary to adapt and thrive in an increasingly troubled industry, and at the heart of it all lies one essential contradiction.

    There are no regulations, Hampton emphasizes, and at the same time, the demand for treatment is so high.

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    I Have Published Thousands Of Articles Over The Past Few Years, Here Are 30 Things I Can Tell You About Being A Writer

    Wiest’s Instagram

    I have been working as a professional writer for the past 4.5 years, in everything from finance to entertainment to lifestyle to poetry to news. I have hired writers and published other people’s writing. I have done nonprofit copywriting and sponsored content and four books. Some of my articles have 9 million views. Others have 300. These numbers are not always a reflection of the quality of the work itself, rather what is resonating with people at the time. In all, I have published a few thousand pieces, and below are the 30 things I wish someone had told me when I first started it all.

    1. The internet has redefined how creatives work. Twenty years ago, journalists were competing for a 5×7 column space. It’s not like that anymore. Now, you are competing for people’s attention.

    2. The ability to weave flowery sentences together makes you a poet. The ability to communicate ideas clearly enough that a wide audience of people can understand them makes you a writer.

    3. Writing is more like a sport than it is an art. It is mostly collaborative – any given piece usually passes through a number of people before it is published – and it is perfected by strategy, training and repetition, not blind talent.

    4. Creativity is not a well you tap dry, it is a mental muscle that strengthens with time. Four years ago, someone asked me how I would be able to keep up with the volume I was producing, how I would keep developing pitches and ideas. I didn’t have an answer at the time. Since, I’ve learned that there are an indefinite number of ways to talk about any topic, and coming up with them actually gets easier with time, not harder.

    5. Though creativity doesn’t run dry, effort does. If you are constantly trying too hard to be something you are not, you will burn out.

    6. You don’t need have to have unique ideas all of the time. Most writers actually just communicate other people’s news.

    7. There’s a difference between writing as a hobby and writing as a profession. Most people do not want to be professional writers. They like the idea of being able to “do what they love,” and then when they have to write 5 articles a day on top of manuscripts and other projects, they suddenly don’t love it so much anymore.

    8. A lot of people ascribe a moral or artistic hierarchy to writing. That is a dumb way to think about it. It’s like saying that one type of music is better than another as though it is a fact and not subjective opinion. Different genres and styles resonate with different people and they are all “good” and valid in their own ways.

    9. There’s nothing wrong with writing what other people want to read.

    10. In fact, unless you are writing what other people want to read, you’re not bringing in ad dollars, and your work is (fiscally) worthless.

    11. Digital publications make money through ads and sponsorships. The more people that view a website, the more they can sell ad space or sponsored content for, like they do with commercials on TV.

    12. Because of how quickly news moves, it is much more common to find regular work writing stories daily, weekly or monthly.

    13. Websites that are backed by major publishing companies can (usually) afford to pay you a little better.

    14. However, you can only really start asking for premium rates once you’ve built an audience, or proven that your writing regularly generates a large response.

    15. To generate that large response, write what you need to read, and do it in a way that is approachable, simple and organized.

    16. Write what you need to read. The best thing I have learned throughout all of this is how truly alike we all are at our core. When millions of people share the same article because it is “so them,” you realize just how not alone you are.

    17. There are a lot of different kinds of writing jobs out there, and not all of it includes a public byline.

    18. People like to keep others in neat boxes. You are not less of a poet because you are also a TV reporter. Contain multitudes, guys.

    19. For the love of god, show your work, don’t talk about it. There is nothing more grating than someone who constantly talks about how good/hard/stressful/crazy work is, without ever really showing you what they do.

    20. The reason for this has something to do with what you train your brain to be affirmed for. If you post about work being hard and get a social response to it, you’re conditioning yourself to keep thinking work is hard. If you wait to post your finished product and get a response to that, you condition yourself to achieve completion.

    21. Metrics of success are different for everyone, and that is never as true as with writing. Five years ago, the idea of having one article published was basically beyond my wildest dreams.

    22. Writing is not that special, and it is not always creative. There are lots of companies, organizations, businesses and individuals that need reports drafted, copy edited, or marketing designed.

    23. Not everyone will like what you do. That’s oddly one of those “metrics of success” that are pretty universal. If you’re getting big enough to generate an adverse response from some people, you’re getting somewhere.

    24. Remember that if you say or suggest anything that is counter to an attachment that someone has, they will retaliate. One particular trigger for a lot of people is telling them they have the power to change their lives. The very people who most need to heed that advice are the ones who will vehemently defend why they don’t. Remember that their responses aren’t always a reflection of you, but they are always a reflection of them.

    25. Nobody probably cares about you that much. At max, they read something you’ve written, have an opinion on it, and carry on with their day. It is too easy to get a spotlight complex from this kind of work. Regularly remind yourself of your insignificance.

    26. You should look back on your earliest work and think it could be better. If you don’t, that means you’ve stagnated.

    27. Success should be self-evident. You should never have to say, or imply: “I am successful.” That should be clear through the work you are producing.

    28. The only time that you should be talking up what you do and how well you do it is at an interview or on your personal website. This applies to every profession: be the person who is successful but you’d never know it, not the person who makes sure everyone knows it.

    29. You will always be surprised by who, and what, becomes popular.

    30. Only real way to fail as a writer is to give up on it – which is true for most things in life. 

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    Las Vegas shooting victims file more lawsuits, press for answers

    Lawsuits related to the Las Vegas massacre are mounting, as 14 more concertgoers have initiated legal action — including one victim who was so traumatized after the attack she said she’s mistaken the sound of rain for Stephen Paddock’s deadly gunfire.

    The Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino — the perch from where Paddock fired — organizers of the country concert Paddock fired on and the makers and sellers of a bump stock gun accessory that enabled Paddock to rapidly shoot are all named as defendants in the lawsuits filed in Las Vegas state court Wednesday on behalf of the 14 concertgoers.

    “I don’t sleep at night and, when I do, I have nightmares,” Elisha Seng, a 46-year-old from Bartlett, Ill., told The Associated Press. She said she even jumped up from her bed once as it was raining.

    “I thought it was gunshots,” she said, adding she can’t erase the mental images of bullets landing around her on the concert grounds — and of turning to see a young woman covered in blood after being shot, clutching her throat and falling forward.

    Seng, who wasn’t physically injured, returned to work as a sales representative, but said she quickly tires from her lack of sleep. Going to concert or sports halls can prompt flashbacks. She recently attended a Chicago Blackhawks game and found herself nervously calculating the best escape routes should someone open fire.


    Michelle Simpson Tuegel, an attorney representing victim Paige Gasper, a 21-year-old college student who was left with shattered ribs and a lacerated liver after being shot in the massacre, told Fox News it “is going to be a long road for all of these survivors, both physically and emotionally.”

    “I think that’s hard for these survivors…and the people [killed in the recent church shooting] in Texas will have some of the same roads to deal with, with their trauma,” she said.

    Tuegel told Fox News in October that Gasper’s family “wants answers” from festival organizers and hotel management.

    A lead attorney in the lawsuits, Chicago-based Antonio Romanucci, echoed that call Wednesday.

    “We want to get access to documents and discovery that either MGM or Live Nation has in their possession so we can determine how these events can be prevented.”

    – Antonio Romanucci, attorney

    “These people need answers and are looking for closure and the only way we can get closure is by filing lawsuits and getting information,” Romanucci told FOX5 Las Vegas.

    The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and the FBI, who are handling the investigation, have been unusually tight-lipped since the attack, barely speaking to the media in recent weeks.

    The 14 civil complaints follow at least three others, one of which is Gasper’s, filed since Paddock killed 58 people and injured hundreds of others. The lawsuits seeks unspecific compensation for both “physical and mental injuries,” The Associated Press reported.

    The challenge for mass-shooting lawsuits is clearing a high legal bar to prove someone other than the shooter bears any responsibility. Such litigation typically drags on for years and can end with victims and their families receiving little to no money, according to The Associated Press.

    A Chicago law firm helped to prepare the filings for the plaintiffs, which include several people from the Chicago area. Victims named in the suits also include a California man, Anthony Crisci, who was rushed to a hospital with a gunshot wound in a truck crowded with other victims.

    Among deficiencies at the concert venue were poorly marked exits, Wednesday’s filings say. And the hotel, it says, should have had gunfire-location devices that pinpoint where shots are coming from.

    The 64-year-old Paddock, who killed himself just before his room was stormed, is also named in a bid to seize assets from his estate.


    Paddock was able to use VIP status conferred on him as a high-stakes gambler to stockpile more than 20 rifles in his hotel suite without notice, including by using exclusive access to a service elevator over several days, the filings say. Lawyers argue what should have been routine checks of Paddock’s bags and his room would have revealed his growing arsenal.

    The filings also name a leading bump stock maker, Texas-based Slide Fire Solutions, as a defendant. Romanucci said it wasn’t yet clear which manufacturer, wholesaler or retailer made and sold the specific bump stock that Paddock used, but the idea was to hold “the entire supply chain” responsible. Messages from The Associated Press seeking comment from Slide Fire weren’t returned.

    “We want to get access to documents and discovery that either MGM or Live Nation has in their possession so we can determine how these events can be prevented, specifically this one,” Romanucci told FOX5 Las Vegas.

    MGM Resorts International, the parent company of Mandalay Bay, called the shooting “a meticulously planned, evil…act” in a statement Wednesday to The Associated Press and added it would respond to any allegations only through “the appropriate legal channels.” Live Nation, a concert organizer named in the filings, said in a statement it cannot comment on pending litigation, but noted the company remains “heartbroken for the victims.”

    Bump stocks were originally created ostensibly to make it easier for people with disabilities to shoot. But the filings allege Slide Fire geared its marketing to regular gun owners who wanted their semi-automatic rifles to mimic fully automatic weapons.

    Seng said she joined the civil case to force better security at concerts and at hotels. She said she can’t fathom how a hotel-casino that devotes so many resources to catching gamblers that cheat didn’t notice Paddock bringing in high-powered weapons over a number of days.

    “They can catch a person counting cards,” she said. “But they can’t catch someone carrying bags of guns.”

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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    20+ Dirty Business Tactics That You May Not Know Exist

    Business is business; it’s not kind, forgiving, or even fair sometimes. That being said, there are some businesspeople out there who are so shrewd, so sharply focused on making that extra buck, they’re willing to put their very integrity on the line to make it happen – even if it means bending a few laws. The good people of Reddit were recently asked what shady business tactics they’ve seen used, and the answers they gave may shock and disturb you. Whether you’re in business yourself and have seen it all, or you’re a regular customer who’s curious about where your money is going, you need to be aware of these dirty tricks in order to avoid them. Scroll down to see them all, and let us know which ones you’ve seen go down under the table in the comments.

    “Every month” and “every 4 weeks” sound similar, but are different. Paying every month gets you 12 payments, every 4 weeks gets you 13

    TL;DR: Planned obsolescence and all the different types, with examples.
    Planned obsolescence. Basically, products are designed by manufacturers to “wear out” after a certain period of time or amount of use. This is done to force consumers to re-purchase products or purchase new versions of products.
    There are a few types of planned obsolescence. First is contrived durability, which means a product is designed to deteriorate quickly. A great example is how disposable razor blades wear out so quickly.
    The second type is prevention of repairs, which means a product is designed in such a way that it is either made to be a single-use item (like disposable cameras), or in a way that uses proprietary hardware to prevent repairs and even damage the products if repairs are attempted. Apple is guilty of this with the majority of their product line-up, even seeking legislation to make it illegal to provide the difficult repairs.
    The third is perceived obsolescence, which means a manufacturer frequently releases new “versions” of a product to make consumers feel as if the old product is far inferior. This is incredibly common, and in the grand scheme of things, fairly harmless. This type of planned obsolescence doesn’t force a consumer to purchase a new product, but rather coerces them to, as do many other marketing campaigns. Common examples include new cars, phones, televisions, apparel, etc. for which new versions are released frequently.
    Fourth is systemic obsolescence, which is when a manufacturer deliberately attempts to make a product obsolete by altering the system to make regular use difficult. Many people, including myself, accuse Apple of this when they release a new iPhone. Many people find that their old iPhone begins to run slowly after the latest iOS update following the release of the new iPhone model.
    Last is programmed obsolescence, which is when a product contains a mechanical or electrical system that limits the amount of uses the product has. One notable example is printer cartiriges which use software to limit the amount of pages they will print, regardless of the actual ink level. Hewlett Packard was sued on allegations that their ink cartridges would “expire” on a certain date.
    Altogether, these practices create an abundance of waste and unethically force consumers to buy more “stuff”. This is a great way to make money hand-over-fist, and it is far more common than most people may think. People often complain that “things just don’t last as long as they used to,” which, excluding survivorship bias, is true because they are built not to.

    Not sure if this fits, but if you are offered a raise for taking on new responsibilities, get it in writing. Just learned that the hard way.

    I waited tables in a restaurant and one time I decided to pour a cup of soup into an empty bowl (a bowl of soup costs a good bit more than a cup of soup at the restaurant). The cup filled up the bowl to the top.

    Mattress stores that have the “find it anywhere else for cheaper, you get your money back!” deal contract with the manufacturer to make the exact same model of bed, but with a model name specific to that store, so nobody can ever cash in on that deal.

    I know a guy who does pest control who specializes in raccoon removal. He takes the raccoons from one house in one neighborhood, then takes and releases it in another neighborhood then waits for the people there to reach out to him to remove the raccoon from their home.

    I was a waitress at a family-owned restaurant that paid me $0.10 more than the minimum wage. They were able to require me to turn over all tips that I never saw again because they paid me over minimum wage. I think this is technically legal, but sleazy nonetheless. I made really great tips and it was hard turning the money over. It’s also pretty deceptive to the customer, who thinks their money is going to the wait staff, not the restaurant.

    When I was in the process of moving into my current home I transferred the title of my old home and land to my sister because she was buying it and moving in when I left. Within the next few weeks she started getting all the “welcome to the neighborhood” coupons and flyers. She didn’t even change her address, so I assume companies track title changes with the register of deeds. The sketchiest was a pest control company claiming to have an existing account on the property and recommending she continue to use their services. They detailed dates and changes; referenced termites. It was all lies. All the dates shown were while I owned the property and I never even heard of this company before she received that letter.

    If you’re buying a used car and it’s parked over a puddle – they don’t want you to look underneath.

    I worked in the collections department of Discover Card for a while. One thing they did (maybe still do), to lure customers to them is offer 0% APR for the first year. People would jump on this and transfer all their debt onto their new Discover Card, and then the company would “conveniently” not send the first month’s bill. In the fine print of the agreement, it states that if you miss even one payment in that first year, your APR will jump to 29.95%. Half of my calls were to these new customers who would then proceed to throw a fit, because they didn’t ever get the bill, and I had to explain to them that it was their job to know when the bill was due, and sending one was just a courtesy extended by the company. I hated hated hated that job. It ate away at my soul.

    Many companies claim to be environmentally friendly by putting made up certifications on their products. Like a frog in a circle that says “rainforest friendly.” There are very few legitimate environmental certifications. It’s called “green washing.”

    When finding a home for your elderly parents, set up an appointment but come in a few minutes early and say (don’t ask) if you can walk around for a quick look. The receptionist likely wont refuse you, and the sales person won’t be ready for you. These places like to show you only the stuff they want you to see when being led around by a sales person. Chat with a resident or a staff member, they’ll be the most honest with you.

    The higher priced items like prime rib and seafood is typically at the end of the buffet line and cheaper more filling options like bread and mashed potatoes are at the front. They hope you fill up your plate space/stomach space by the time you get to the high ticket items.

    Some stores increase the price of a product and then put it “on sale” by a percentage of the fake higher price.

    The “closing down” sale in the shop that never closes down. It’s just in closing down sale mode continuously.
    I’m amazed shops are allowed to get away with this.

    In France it’s hard to fire or lay off people, so when big companies need to clean house a bit, they move the office to a new location quite distant from the current one. In the process they reduce the office size from 50,000 seats to 30,000 because they’ve estimated that amount of people will resign rather than endure a 4 hours commute… But officially “totally you still have your job if you want, we are not laying you off, but I need you in the office everyday… Or you could resign if you don’t like the new location…”

    Making you pay more for printing your own damn tickets at home.
    StubHub, ticketmaster etc.

    I bought a swimming pool several years ago. The slime-ball sales guy was using all the tactics. Last few days of sale, need to put money down today. Yada, yada. This was a major purchase and it irked me the way he was trying to pressure the sale.
    I ended up going to another branch of the same pool store and buying the pool. It came out to a few hundred dollars difference.
    I had an occasion to stop in the first store as the install was happening. Needed some sort of part or chemical. The original sales guy recognises me and ask about the pending sale. I said “I bought it off the other store because you said the sale was ending. I figured maybe they where running the sale longer” His eyes about blew out of his head. The girl at the register was giggling the whole time. As he stormed off she said” Now that was funny” I just smiled back and walked out the door.

    “We have many more clients interested in this limited offer.”

    When I was working in sales this is what they taught me to psychologically trick people into buying whatever shit we were selling. Strap in, this could be long.
    First up, everything I learnt in sales worked through what they called ‘impulse’ selling, which means playing on people’s tendencies to make a decision based on their current state of emotion. Salesmen will build your level of ‘impulse’, and then ‘close’ you. The ‘close’ is the point at which they seal the deal, and you give them your money in exchange for whatever they have convinced you that you need.
    There are five basic ways that salesmen will ‘impulse’ you. The acronym they taught us was G.I.F.T.S.
    The first was ‘Greed’. People are naturally greedy. By which I mean they want more for their money. They want a good deal. If people think they can make or save money, they are more inclined to buy. An example of this is basic ‘half price’ or ‘buy X, get Y free’ sales.
    I stands for ‘Indifference’. People can smell desperation. If they sense that you have a motive for wanting them to do something (like buy) they will be more wary, and want to know your reasons. Therefore, a salesman will try to make it seem as though they do not care whether or not you buy (even if they are on commission). After all, they are only offering you this amazing deal for your own benefit.. They have nothing to gain..
    Third was ‘Fear of Loss’. Causing people to worry that they will miss out if they don’t buy. This can be exploited by making people think that this is their one and only opportunity to purchase at a ‘reduced rate’, or used in conjunction with ‘Greed’, for example ‘buy in the next 60 minutes and get X free!’.
    T, ‘The Jones’ Theory’. If your community is getting on-board with an idea, there is no reason that you shouldn’t too. It’s safe. ‘It’s all the rage’. ‘Everybody’s doing it’. ‘Don’t miss out’. This also ties in with ‘Fear of Loss’.
    The last one is ‘Sense of Urgency’. Can be used in similar ways as ‘Fear of Loss’, i.e. ‘buy in the next 60 minutes or else X’, or as subtly as a salesman saying that they have other appointments and won’t be able to come back and offer you this deal for a too-long period of time. A sense of urgency causes people to buy more impulsively, especially when coupled with a fear of loss.
    Once salesmen have ‘impulsed’ you enough, they will try to ‘close’ you. I was also taught a number techniques to ‘close’.
    The first was the ‘assumptive close’. This is basically assuming that the person will buy and filling out the paperwork. A common example of this is a salesman simply asking for your your name, and the proceeding with the sale. They will fill out an entire form and then just ask you to sign at the end.
    This is often assisted by the ‘trial close’, where a salesman will slowly push you over the line, while at the same time testing you to see if you are ‘impulsed’ enough to buy. They will do this by asking you closed questions, aimed at steering you down a conversational track which leads to a sale. Charity workers do this a lot when they ask ‘Do you like dolphins?’ (yes), ‘Do you think dolphin’s habitats should be protected?’ (yes), ‘How much do you spend on beer / tea / coffee a week?’ ($5-$50), ‘Do think you could put $X towards saving the dolphins?’ (umm, well, I guess you got me there..)
    Another powerful close is the ‘alternative close’, where salesmen will offer you one of two choices, both of which result in a sale. ‘So would you like the regular option or the slique-deluxe?’. Often presented assumptively (see ‘assumptive close’).
    The last was the ‘silent close’. Harder to use, but effective with indecisive buyers or people that pull back when pressured. Basically presenting the overwhelming positives with the easily countered negatives, and then shifting control of the conversation to the buyer, and forcing them to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Obviously, the salesman has presented the information in such a way that you would be stupid to say ‘no’. After building tension and excitement for the product, they let you come to the decision themselves.
    Almost every person who sells goods or services has been taught something along these lines, and the most successful salesmen have this information at the forefront of their minds when they are selling to you. Never forget it. These people just want your money, they honestly do not generally care what you get out of it.

    Some companies on Amazon will offer to refund your purchase of their item on paypal if you give them a good review. That way it still looks like a varified purchase through Amazon.

    If you’re buying a used car – or any car for that matter, the check engine light should temporarily come on when you start the vehicle. If it doesn’t, the dash has been tampered with to mask a potential issue

    Made “from” or “with” 100% something
    Just because something is made with 100% of something doesn’t mean that the thing itself is 100% that thing.

    It’s not dirty as it’s legal but there is a reason that stores ask you to donate some amount to a charity or fund. They can use your donation to help them get a tax write off.

    The “You won a TV / $5,000 / bass boat!” scams at car dealerships.
    Generally, you get a flyer in the mail that says “scratch off x to see if you won!”
    You always “win” the biggest prize but when you read the fine print, you actually only win the right to spin some wheel or put your name in a box for a drawing.
    The employees’ friends and family always actually get the boat / TV / cash. Your “win” is just a tactic to get you into the dealership.
    A fun thing to do is waste the manager’s time.
    Go to the dealership, “prize” flyer in hand. Find an nice car. One with all of the options. Ask for every dealer add on they offer and tell them you don’t want to waste time negotiating, you have cash. Talk to the manager, and keep going back to him/her. Insist on a test drive with the manager. Convince them you want to buy the car, and get to the paperwork phase.
    Then, just before you sign, inform them that they haven’t sold you a car. They’ve sold you on the idea of buying a car. Get the manager’s card and tell them you’ll be dropping their card in a hat with other dealership manager’s cards. A card will be selected at random and that dealership manager will be notified by mail in 4 to 6 weeks. Let them know that the actual car you buy may not be the one used in your “promotion.”

    Giving someone a promotion just to get them back on a probationary period so they can be fired without cause or repercussion.
    Happened to my wife recently. They were able to twist some information to make her look bad enough to can, and with no risk of legal recourse because she was on probation with her new position. Wife said they did the exact same thing to someone within the past year; guy won employee or the year, was promoted and promptly fired.

    Add to that labelling things like “0% cholesterol!” or “Free from saturated fats!” on foods that would never normally contain or be expected to contain those things. Bonus points if it’s something really unhealthy like boiled sweets.

    Worked in a family owned pharmacy for a few years. Find yourself a family owned pharmacy if you a) don’t want to go through your insurance b) don’t have insurance or c) you’d like to support the working class and not walmart or CVS. People would call us and ask for a cash price for their medication. We would be hundreds of dollars cheaper than walmart on almost every prescription. I remember quoting someone a 90 day medication at $20 and they said walmart was going to charge $250. The reason I said the things about not going through insurance is because insurance companies tell the pharmacy how much to charge you and tell the pharmacy how much the medications cost. Shit, add insurance companies to this list. Family owned pharmacies are losing so much money because of the way insurance companies work.

    Offering insurance on anything that does not have the potential to be financially debilitating. “Want to insure your DVD rental?” Fuck off.

    My good friends job at a Medical insurance company was to evaluate existing accounts and do risk assessments and cost analysis. Take over the cost sucking accounts and find a way to eliminate them.
    He cut a costly account off and argued for a month with the primary holder because he found some weird rule in their terms the family Violated. My friend got a bigger monthly bonus and he got a call two months later from the dad thanking him because his 10 year old son died.

    Watch the ever changing price of pre-packaged food goods at most grocery stores. One day the price ‘may’ seem to go down, but if you checked the weight, it has also gone down. Snack foods do this constantly.

    When I worked at H&M we used to do some sneaky stuff with setting up the mannequins/displays. Whenever we had a supply of shirts that were really ugly, and weren’t selling well. We’d put the ugly item on the mannequin, and it would sell out very quickly.
    This isn’t necessarily the dirtiest trick, but it worked pretty well for pushing really ugly clothes.

    When my grandmother was in the hospital, her landscaper and handyman both contacted me to tell me she hadn’t paid them and they’d been trying to to reach her and on and on. I’d already paid both bills from her account and when I questioned them, they remembered real quick.

    some telemarketers will ask if you can hear or understand them. if you say yes, they’ll call back and say that you ordered their product with a recording of you saying yes.

    In restaurants, the daily special or the ‘chef’s choice’ option for things like cheese plates and desserts means ‘the stuff that will expire tonight.’
    In the US food laws are stringent, and most of those things won’t hurt you, but you will not get the best the restaurant has to offer.

    I worked in the Oil and Gas industry for a brand marketing internship in college. This company owned a franchised brand and an in-house brand. They would target “New Americans” which were mostly pakistanis or people who smoke limited english and sell them on the idea of owning their own business. Franchising for the company was much cheaper than investing in building their in-house brand. A benefit in the in house brand however was since they had more control over the costs via vertical integration they were able to undercut competitors on gasoline prices.
    So the brand marketers would target new Americans and have them invest their own money in opening up a gas station. If the gas station did well this would be a “market test” for the viability of the in house brand. The in house brand would then find a spot typically across the street from the franchise and build their own station. If the franchise didn’t do what the in-house brand wanted they would begin undercutting the station on gasoline prices until they were run out of business due to not being able to shoulder the burden of cost like the in-house brand could.
    Once the station was gone, prices would rise again and the in-house brand would benefit from not splitting traffic like before.
    I figured this out about half way through my internship and essentially just checked out, I was paid well but it was the worst I’ve ever felt as an employee.

    Saturation competition. A way for bigger, richer Corps to kill smaller local businesses.
    Open so many Starbucks (or whatever store) in the area that noone can make money, since there’s just way too few customers to go around.
    Soak up the loses for a few years with your deep pockets until all the local stores have gone out of business.
    Shut down excess stores once you’re the only player in town.

    When my friends and I rented our first house in college, the landlord told us that he had three different groups of people walking through the house the next couple of days, essentially getting us to sign the lease as quickly as we could. We were excited, so we didn’t think much about it.
    Fast forward to two years later. A group of college guys were walking through the rental with the landlord. I pulled one aside and chatted with him a bit about the downsides of the property that I felt I couldn’t say in front of the landlord. It came up in conversation that there were ‘three other groups walking through in the next couple of days’. There weren’t (the landlord was obligated to tell us about people walking through).
    The bastard tried to take advantage of them the same way that he did with us two years prior.

    Take pics of any existing damage to a rental as soon as you move in and email it to the landlord/leasing office. I did this after a landlord told us he took the last tenant’s entire security deposit for damage (to be fair, it sounded like the tenant really messed shit up). I took that as a flag, and sent him a very detailed email of every hint of damage I could find. 12 months later, after we moved out he emailed me to say he was going to deduct $100 from our security for damage. I reminded him of the email I sent him, and never heard from the f*cker again.

    A company having a business model that relies on charging fees for breaking its own rules without justification for them.
    Looking at you CreditOne.
    *Has a late payment fee but refuses to add any kind of auto-payment. In 2017.
    *Takes 5 days to clear a normal payment. Pay 4 days before your bill is due? That’s a late payment fee. Want your payment to clear earlier to avoid that fee? Pay an express payment fee! Its the same fee amount? Lordy! What a coincidence!

    A car dealership (this list exists for them) is advertising an old truck for $2,500. I go there to check it out and hear a looooong story about…
    How perfect it is, how much the previous owner hated to trade it in after so many years of faithful service, how he’s loved it and taken such great care of it, how well it has always run for the owner and the dealership (they’ve only had to change the oil filter on it and it still runs perfectly!) and how it’s just taking up space in their parking lot and they need to get rid of it.
    Great! We take it for a test drive, no problems. Great! We’ll have it!
    So we sit down to make the purchase…It’s over $5,000, doubled in price! On top of the $2,500 car, there’s…
    $850 in tax, tag and title fees
    (Actual state tax + state fees are around $300)
    $650 in maintenance and repairs
    “I thought it didn’t need any work…you only had to change the oil filter?”
    “Yeah….well, uh…….we have to wash it, too!”
    $600 shipping/delivery charge
    “This was a trade in! It literally landed on your doorstep! “
    $500 dealership fee
    “It’s just been sitting in the parking lot. Since this is separate from the maintenance fee, I assume this is just paying you and the sales people directly, but you’re only making this transaction harder for me.”

    At the end, I paid $2,500 because they know the rest of the charges are more lies than the truck can haul.

    In Nova Scotia Canada severance pay is paid on the average of your last 30 days of pay. This means that some companies will actually reduce your hours to minimum your last month with them if they are going to lay you off. Happened to me wife. She worked for this company for 5 years, worked 35+ hours per week, suddenly she wasn’t getting shifts. BOOM, layoff notice. Happened to other folks too.

    I worked at a Nissan dealership as a car salesman and it was made abundantly clear to us that all of the advertised prices and sticker prices where 100% bull shit. I even remember one of the managers telling us a new commercial went out and referred to it as “a bunch of lies that are going to get people in the door”.

    Stop pre-ordering unfinished games that stay in beta indefinitely

    Receipts with “disappearing ink”. You know, the ones that scribe with heat, and then completely fade away in a couple of months.
    Any receipt of significant value gets scanned as soon as i bring it home. (This includes warranties and other long-term documentation. )

    Nominal weights and measures that don’t match actual weights and measures. My company sells by the each but each item has a nominal weight. We intentionally produce our product approximately 10% light to save raw material costs.

    Whole Wheat Breads. Double check the ingredients list. If bleached flour is listed at all, put it the f*ck back.
    Sara-Lee is noturious for this. Most of their Whole Wheat products are actually just molasses make the bread darker.

    Pet stores will lie to convince you that their pets come from responsible breeders. They never do, a responsible breeder will always want to screen potential buyers themselves. They would NEVER trust a petstore to find a suitable home for their puppies.
    Also their prices are usually more expensive than a purebred dog from a reputable breeder who does health tests to insure the genetic health and physical health of the dog (even if its invisible to a naked eye). A vet check is NOT a health check, theyre more advanced, including xrays of parents, having the parents seen by board certified opthamologists etc.

    Yelp and their blocking off web reviews and photos if you’re browsing from a phone. Oh, you want to read this review? DOWNLOAD OUR APP. F*ck that.

    My grandfather used to keep doves in his balcony and then sell them on Sunday market. Later the same doves would fly back to him.

    Signing people up for shit as addons to an existing bill and hoping they don’t notice the extra charges.

    Literally anything a corporation does that they can be fined for is taken into account as a business expense. If it’s cheaper to pay an illegal dumping fine than it is to change the way they process waste nothing will be done to stop the illegal dumping.

    An older fellow I know had a bodega and he’d put a can of cream corn on the counter by the register. This was some time ago so the van had a price tag of $.17. He sold that can of cream corn to everyone who bought anything there. If they realized they were paying to much he’d just say he thought that was their can of corn. Most people didn’t notice though and he sold that same can of cream corn maybe twenty times a day.

    Placing the most profitable items at eye level (worst deal for you) and the best value for money items in hard to reach places
    Making you walk past all the items in the store due to design

    Real estate gurus who sell their courses online in downloadable digital format and say that we must buy now since they “only have a few courses remaining and when they’re gone, they’re gone!”. How the f*ck do they run out of digital, downloadable courses? Do their computers run out of binary 1’s and 0’s after so many downloads? Sounds stupid but people fall for this ploy regularly.

    Fake reviews.
    I worked for a startup that had a sleezy CEO and got most, if not all, of their business by fake Yelp, Google, Glassdoor and other review sites in our industry. CEO was a compulsive liar and had no morals.
    It is easy to see fake reviews now since they are usually a bit more eccentric and polished and I have lost all faith in them.

    Buying a car from a “buy here, pay here” dealership. You put $500 or $1000 down they say you are approved and you drive the car home. Two days later the dealership calls and says that they couldn’t get you financed at that down payment and interest rate so we need an additional $2500 down and your interest rate doubles. If you don’t have the extra money they take the car and your original down payment. This is in AZ.

    Many nursing home communities require a massive deposit to move in, mid-6-figures. They earn interest on that deposit, but that’s not the dirty part. The dirty part is in the fine print:
    Marketing staff will tell you that the deposit is returned once the leased unit is relinquished. And that’s technically true. But what they don’t tell you is that the contract defines “relinquishment” as “whenever the marketing staff fills that unit again.”
    So if Grandma dies or moves out, and her apartment is vacated, marketing staff will intentionally not fill that unit again for years at a time, to keep earning interest on the deposit. This results in countless retirees and their surviving families becoming financially destitute as they wait for some leasing agent to feel like giving them back their money.

    Bottled water. Much of the water is from public sources and is marked up hundreds of times over. I just bought some after a flight and paid more for a liter than I would for a gallon of gas.

    Debt collectors will have “detectives” call you from a number that appears to be a legitimate law enforcement agency when you Google it. It’s actually a spoofed caller ID using a legitimate agency’s fax number. The “detective” will threaten arrest and throw around names of local judges. The debt collector will claim to not know the “detective” who left the message, but will be willing to take care of your debt.

    If you’re in the UK, working for an agency or temp work for a company, you will accrue holiday pay. However, the company or agency is not obliged to tell you that.
    After a certain period, if you haven’t claimed it, the agency gets to keep it so often they’ll ‘forget’ to tell you about it.
    They are obliged to payout if you’ve requested it in writing, though.

    Dish Network’s door-to-door salesmen will tell you that’s it’s fine to use your parent’s name and Social Security Number for your account if your credit prevents you from getting service. This is not ok, it’s identity theft.

    If you ever get a demonstration of a service from a company they will always use their very best, most experienced staff but once you’ve signed up you might find you’ve got the dregs that they couldn’t foist on anyone else working for you.

    Online shopping: Don’t trust product reviews and things like amazon best sellers.
    Companies have started to put a lot of marketing effort to get their products good reviews and on top of best seller lists.

    Try to make it seem like you’re going to get some form of extra special deal out of it.
    E.g “2 for £10!!” offers on products that are £5 each anyway.

    Whatever your employer says is not true if you can’t prove it.
    My employer started putting random clauses into my contract verbally. They didn’t exist in writing.

    People give no f*cks about your luggage or parcel, they get dropped, thrown around everyday behind the close door, especially heavy items.

    A local lawn maintenance business takes advantage of unsuspecting customers in 3 ways:
    On monthly bills, they double the state tax (instead of being, say, 6%, it’ll actually be 12%, if you check the math).
    Without discussing it with homeowners, they charge double for “double-cuts” when the grass is a little taller in areas than usual. So, if you had agreed to pay $50 per mowing, the monthly bill says $100 for each visit. They never ask – they just do it and charge double (in most cases, it’s just a small “patch” of the yard that has taller grass, not the entire thing).
    They’re supposed to mow once per week. But without telling customers first, they start mowing every 5 days – which means they get to charge for more mowing visits per month than necessary.

    Maybe not dirty, but incompetent contractors will often way underbid jobs. So if you request a bunch of quotes, and all the bids are relatively close except for one that’s way lower, there’s roughly a 100% chance that guy will screw it up and you’ll have a nightmare on your hands. Sometimes you get what you pay for.

    Not sure if this counts but at my local store they have packets of candy that’s often on sale as 2 for $4, but they always make sure to cover up the original price… which is $2 each

    Before moving in you should take pictures of areas that show existing damage and note that in their form during your walk-thru. Even though they signed off on the form which I stated the existing damage, they still tried to charge for things like water damage to window sills and cupboards that were already there. Also it’d be wise to take a black light through the place before move-in. They tried to charge me for a urine stain they missed from a previous owner who had pets. And lastly, they tried to charge for cleaning the oven.. Except I cleaned the oven. But I forgot to take out the aluminum foil I put in the bottom to catch drips, and they wanted $50, the price of a full cleaning, to remove it.

    Places that change your oil put a sticker on your wind shield to remind you to get it changed again after 3000 miles. In reality you could go at least double that distance and it will probably be fine

    Rental companies, specifically for vacation. They will say a certain condo/house is available on their website but then when you call, they’ll say it is now unavailable or just got booked very recently. Then they’ll try and show you a different place which is like $50 more a night, banking on the desperation of the tourists to just say “f*ck it” and rent it.

    When you go to buy a used car some dealers will have unrealistically low prices for some of their cars that’s lower than their actual value. This is to attract you in, and then once they have you in and you’re considering buying the car, they’ll add what is called a “dealer prep fee” that will range around 500 dollars. This is just a fake fee they will use in order to make up for lost profit for putting the attention grabbing low sticker price.

    Customer wants Product X from a European Manufacturer.
    But Product X from Europe is too expensive. Profit margins will be low.
    So we just buy Product X from some no name Chinese Manufacturer and switch labels.
    These are high volume products that contractors send out tenders for. It’s an open secret anyways. The contractor person in charge knows all the shit. Everyone vying for the order are ready to hand the person a cut (a bribe basically) for the order. So ultimately the client is the one getting screwed, but even he knows what shit goes around, because he ends up saving big time by paying Chinese prices for “European” products, which he goes on to sell to individual customers.
    And honestly, every European manufacturer has a factory in China. Even if you get a legit European product, it’s from China.

    Try, try, try to stay sober enough to successfully challenge any erroneous charges on your drink tab. Sometimes if a bartender or server is dealing with a drunk/heavily buzzed customer, they’ll charge them for more drinks than they actually consumed. Unfortunately, few people excel at doing math when they’re drunk/heavily buzzed.

    Roadside assistance through your car insurance can be reported as a claim. You have no way to argue against it.

    Sellers targetting retired people. To them, retirement means “old” so potentially easy to trick. They send offer for “retired only” by mail or phone. You’re supposed to have win a coffee machin or toaster. You come to the shop to take your prize and thay make you try couch, wine or else, using all their technics to make you think it is a good deal, proposing staggering plan with high interest rate to people would answer them they can affort to buy their stuff. And that shop disappears after few weeks before too many kids come to complain that their parents got swindle.

    In high end IT, vendors will often “go dark” in the months before a service contract renewal or infrastructure refresh is needed. The idea behind this is that the customer is forced to come to them, or they can come to the customer with little enough time to complete the refresh that they are either forced to make a purchase on bad footing for price negotiations or renew service agreements for an additional year at a higher rate while migrating to new gear.

    At home depot and lowes there are cacti with plastic flowers glued on to them.

    Getting solar panels on your house by lease or “power purchase agreement” is a horrible deal for a homeowner. You save a small amount on your bill, but are tied to the agreement for 20+ years while the company that actually owns them retains all of the tax benefits.

    Mechanics and other car servicing places will often put many additional tasks/replacements on your bill or imply that you should do things immediately. While many of their recommendations are things to keep in mind, often the tasks they are talking about are not immediately necessary and can be put off for a while before there is an issue. (This in no means is me saying that you shouldn’t regularly take your car for servicing)

    I work with a lot of different body shops, and in my area the big thing to do is to enhance the damage to customers cars. I don’t mean they try and negotiate harder, I mean they actively create more damage to previously undamaged panels, usually in ways that don’t affect the function and are hidden to the customer, in order to get the insurance company to pay them more money. In my area, while not every shop does this, I would say the honest ones are the minority.
    And it screws the customer over in the long run. The shop might promise that they will “save you your deductible”, but in the end you end up with a car that has unrepaired damage or you have to pay out of pocket if the insurance company catches the shop enhancing. And the sad thing is there is almost no way to know which shops do this when you pick a shop.

    Jacking google business pages. Basically if a google business listing isn’t claimed and controlled by a company, a competing company can weasel their way in and direct people to their business by, say, changing the phone number.
    There was an article recently about how drug counselors in the Philadelphia area had it happen to them. Their listing phone number was changed to an 800 number, which directed callers to an inpatient rehab facility in Florida. It was discovered when one of these counselors started noticing his patients suddenly not showing up. He called one of them and found out he was at this facility in florida.

    At theatres the price of medium cup of popcorn is usually very close to the price of the large popcorn making people more likely to buy the larger one.

    Offering a great deal over the phone to get you to buy or upgrade, then refusing to acknowledge the deal later on because there’s nothing in writing.

    I recently paid for a riverboat dinner cruise, the cruise was cancelled cuz the boat broke and they wouldn’t refund my money citing “they told me so” when I paid for them. There is a clause that if they have to cancel they’ll do the event in the dock…

    Automatic renewal/evergreen clauses in equipment leases where the service/maintenance payment is bundled in with the equipment payment. Terms are normally 90-day advance notice with annual renewal. Lessor has to enforce the annual renewal – to amortize the residual cost of the equipment, and give sales leverage to the servicing dealer. Usually by this time in a five-year lease the service portion has increased incrementally due to automatic increase clauses in the lease contract. Lessee: I want to return my equipment. Lessor: You cannot, unless you pay 12 months of rental+service, and then ship back the gear at your own expense. But the dealer can sell you a new machine that we can finance for a much lower payment! Total fucking scam and I was responsible for enforcing those terms for many years. Left with an indelible stain on my soul.

    Making an “expansion pass” and only including 2 of your 4 DLC in it.

    When moving out of a rental apartment/house make sure to take lots of pictures and ask the owner/landlord to do a walkthrough with you. Video the walk through. That way if they do not give you all your deposit back you have something to take to court VS a he said he said which you generally lose.
    When you turn in cable/internet equipment make sure to get a FULL receipt showing what they took in and the date it was received. Scan this and e-mail to a couple different e-mail accounts. Comcast and others are bad about “losing” the equipment a couple years later, after you forget, and then billing you. CYA!!!

    Petco will sell you non-aquatic plants specifically for your aquarium that will poison everything in the tank.

    Know the difference between a gigabit and a gigabyte. One gigabit/megabit/kilobit is only equal to 0.125 gigabyte/megabyte/kilobytes. A lot of services (like Verizon) advertise their data caps and data speeds in gigabits so as to confuse customers who don’t know the difference. If your plan has a 8 gigabit data cap, then you can only really use 1 gigabyte of data. Likewise, your 100mbit/s internet speed only has a peak download of 12.5 megabytes per second.

    Best Buy: With an HDTV like this you’re going to want these gold plated HDMI cables which are rated for 720Hz ($80) and you’ll want a router that can take advantage of full 360° panoramic WiFi too.

    Offering people in debt credit cards with incredibly low initial interest rates for the first year and then raising the rate dramatically to keep them paying off new interest debt forever

    I’ve seen many videos of cops pull drivers over, put them in handcuffs and sit them on the curb “for their safety,” and then ask for their keys so they can get their registration. You know, to get the stop over with so they can get out of the handcuffs and go on their way.
    This is how cops legally obtain permission to search your vehicle. Any time you are compelled out of your car, lock the car, put the keys in your pocket, and don’t hand them over under any circumstances.

    If political campaigns are calling you, they never actually remove you from the list when you get asked to be removed. Most of the time the refused option needs to be selected multiple times in your database profile to actually be removed.

    If you go anywhere to get your oil changed, check what your interval is first. Some will insist on an oil change every time you go in, which you do not always need. Toyotas are a good example. They have a 10k synthetic oil and need to be changed every other service appointment (5k service intervals).

    Any food that has garlic added to them, contains spoiled food. If you ever see a garlic shrimp special, it is unsafe to eat.

    Garlic is there to hide the flavour of spoilt food.