Donnie Jalapeno Reigns Supreme! And spunkybean and The Bachelor Recaps

10420130_886021651420367_2669192316384554899_nWhen I leave this world, if there isn’t a patron Saint of Salsa, I hope I’ll be canonized in that category. Why? Because my Donnie Jalapeno salsa is that good. Since about October, I’ve been hammered with requests for it, and since my salsa makes the world a better place (hence my push for Sainthood), how’s that song go???  This little light of mine? I’m gonna let it shine. Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m going to let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine.

“It” = salsa

I think I need to bring in Scott and Weldon to tell me if my worst-ever-business-model has any sustainability, but for now, I’m going to keep with how I do my salsa business.

  1. I post to Facebook, Twitter, and social media (and email my Donnie Jalapeno email list) that I’m making salsa on Thursday.
  2. Make salsa on Thursday in my kitchen.
  3. Have people come to my house on Friday and Saturday and pick up their salsa.

I don’t think you need an M.B.A. to recognize the flaw – limited distribution capability. The problem is, I know my salsa is the best but only when fresh (seriously …read the reviews).

Some food expert once said to add a preservative, and it changed the flavor. Someone else said “can it” and that worked, OK, but even then only has a limited shelf life.

That’s my challenge for 2018 …how to increase output without sacrificing the freshness that makes it the best salsa in the world.

What else? Oh, yes. The Bachelor is back!!! And so are my recaps at spunkybean. You can get started before Monday’s premiere by reading my quick analysis of all the women who’ll be chasing Arie.

Now, here’s that song about letting my light shine.


No Regrets

I don’t know what’s more powerful. Fear? Or regret? Or fear of regret (if that’s a thing).

It actually all kinda works together. For me, I regret some things I’ve done, but more and more, I’m regretting the things I haven’t done.

I regret every time I made my mother cry and regret I never had a chance to apologize for that, as she passed away 12 years ago. Which makes me regret not telling my Dad “thank you” for not giving up on me when I was a real asshole for a few years there. And I don’t want to regret not telling him how much I appreciate him and how lucky I am that he’s my Dad.

I regret that I haven’t been to Confession since I was 14 years old, and I walk around calling myself a good Catholic.

I regret every time I fight with my wife.

I regret I never really went all-in on my salsa business. Or my writing. Or my website, spunkybean, and that I really dropped the ball and let down the talented Myndi and EJ.

I regret that I can’t ever seem to actually stick to a diet. And not necessarily a “diet” but avoiding splurging and gorging on fast food and cookies.

I don’t want to regret telling someone I love very much that he should change his ways immediately or he’ll die too soon.

I regret that I don’t get enough sleep. I regret that I only give it about 75% effort at work. I regret that I don’t exercise and that if I don’t exercise, I’ll never play soccer again (because my lungs will never be strong enough).

And this is a problem. Because some day I’m going to regret that I never wrote the screenplay that’s in my brain and I’ll never know if it was as brilliant as I think it is, or not. I won’t ever have the book I know I can write and while it may not ever be a New York Times best-seller, it will be loved by my family.

We’re about to go into Lent, again, and I’m vowing here and now to make …it …count! I’m going to use Lent to right all the regrets I have. It’s going to be great and I can’t wait to start living life without regrets.

Things I Did: Weekend Writing Wrap-Up

There was a point in my life where I’d have thought a blog entry like this was superfluous, unnecessary, and excessive (just like the two words I used after “superfluous”). I’d have also thought a blog entry like the one you’re about to read (or not read) is an exercise in arrogance. The great thing about getting older is you wise up and realize, who cares, and before long I’m going to be standing in a restaurant yelling at people about why rap music is what’s wrong with America and kids these days (that actually happened at a radio station event I went to this week).

Without further ado, here’s some stuff I wrote this week that’s available for public consumption (and I only wish I could share with you a script I’m writing, but …I can’t …yet). I hope you’ve bookmarked this blog or that you follow me on Twitter at @donkowalewski, or that you look at spunkybean every now and then. But just in case you have a busy life and it doesn’t revolve around me, here’s my weekly digest.

The Bachelor Juan Pablo, Sharleen Quits: As someone commented on Facebook …”weel you assep’ diss rose?” I really hope the women of America are paying attention to what an international heart throb looks like after a few weeks.

American Idol Rush Week Top-15 Girls Perform: Malaya! Malaya! Malaya! Can this awesomely cool nerd win over all of America’s hearts? Can her ridiculously amazing voice trump the pretty faces of a few other ladies? I’m not kidding you. I’ll vote for multiple times every week.

American Idol Rush Week Top-15 Boys Perform: At first glance, it doesn’t seem like there’s an Idol-worthy male performer, but it’s soooooo early. We have no idea who’s about to unleash a torrent of talent on our televisions. I love the quirky Alex Preston, but he lacks mainstream appeal. It would seem one of the Country boys should be the odds on favorite, but they lack a certain boyish charm.

American Idol Rush Week Results (Top-13 Revealed): American Idol and Fox gave us one of the most disjointed hours of television I’ve ever witnessed, and even though at the end of the show I was happy with just about everyone in the Top-13, somehow during the selection and reveal process, I felt anxious and angry and like my favorite show was being torn apart at the seams. Too much estrogen in my diet, obviously.

Things I Do: Persist – And finally, I’m linking back to a little something I wrote here on this blog (it was a slow week). But I read about persistence and someone at work posted a cool graphic about persistence and it all seemed like something worth sharing. It seemed like something worth examining further, or at least a topic worth pointing out. Sure, I’m in sales and it’s what I do for a living. It’s how I feel my family. Type of sales comes in a variety of forms, and I’m currently back to a more cold-call type selling (at least if I want to long-term, sustained existence). I had a nice 12-year run as a more transaction-type, inside seller. Though I’m not really thinking about my sales, as much as I’m thinking about all of us and everything we do in life. The very existence of this blog should tell you “Don wants to be a writer.” So after almost 7 or 8 years of blogging, having ghost-written two books, launched a pop-culture website, and now working on a script, I guess you could say, though I’m not throwing my entire existence into the endeavor, I’m writing …and it makes me happy. Would I love to be J.K. Rowling and appearing on Oprah? Sure, but that would be the happy accident of it all. I mean that. And who knows …maybe that will happen one day and when it does I’ll just say the secret to my success was persistence.

Now, I wrote so much (this was meant to be very brief), my coffee got cold. See you when next I blog about something.

Things I Did: Signed a Ghost-Writing Client

When I’m not writing about American Idol, The Bachelor and Bachelorette, and Survivor over at spunkybean, I write some other stuff. Once I wrote a concert-guide for Coachella. You can still buy it if you want to see how accurately I predicted the success and failure of certain bands.

I once wrote a short diet book, but the author never used it.

I’ve written articles about talking to people in the afterlife, on mobile phone usage in third world nations, and “green living” in Manhattan.

This “ghost-writing” thing is something I stumbled upon and I love it. If you have a blog and need entries, if you’d like to write something for a magazine and your article needs a little spit shine, or if you have an idea for a book but are intimidated by the process of writing it, organizing it, and getting the story out of your brain and onto paper …call me.

Last week I talked to a gentleman with an amazing, heartbreaking, and incomprehensible story that he felt needed to be told. He’d hammered out various details and long sections, but wasn’t sure what to do with it. I know exactly what he should do. He agreed with my concept and story structure, and yesterday he hired me to write it for him.

I hope someday I’ll be able to brag about this project and tell you the title and plot, but sometimes ghost writers just can’t tell anyone what’s up. But I’ll say this …if I can capture his voice, pain, and the turmoil involved, this will be an amazing book. I’m thrilled to be a part of something like this.

Now, if you need me at any time during the next 120-days, I’ll be at my writing desk toiling away. And occasionally I’ll be on Twitter procrastinating at @donkowalewski.

Things I Love: Other Bloggers

The tradition continues. It’s only the second week, but to do something two weeks in a row like I said I was going to do? It feels like a major victory.

My invented tradition is #ShareSunday, or #SS if you’re going to play along. My idea is to highlight some of the best blogs I discovered during the week or to highlight my favorite blogs – blogs I frequent. Last week it was Write Now! Coach, my sister’s MomRunsHalf blog, and Real Life Husband.

This week, I’m going to tell you about the head of the MSU Alumni Association, Seth Godin, and spunkybean.

Scott was introduced to me by a friend, Jeff S., while at work. My friend and I are huge Michigan State Spartan fans and when he learned I love writing and social media he said, “you need to meet my friend Scott,” who just so happened to be the head of the MSUAA. Scott spent years in the private sector and I can only assume he was a beloved boss, valued and respected co-worker, and visionary. His weekly blog is always there and his advice is timeless and perfect regardless of your walk of life. His blog entries have been converted and re-purposed into two books. He’s like a mini-Seth Godin (see next paragraph). Scott reminds me that it’s OK to pursue your passions and dreams. He obviously (a) loves writing, (b) loves the science of motivation and management, (c) loves being a Spartan, and (d) loves sharing the music he loves with anyone who cares to listen (shame on me for not downloading his podcast, yet). Every Sunday night, without fail, he blogs something and it gets my week jump-started.

Seth’s Blog

I’m going to tell you about this guy as I’ve come to know him. Maybe this won’t be his actual story, but I think it’s close. Seth Godin is a major player in advertising, branding, and blogging. He’s written multiple books, all of which are fairly brilliant. The only thing about marketing and branding that never changes is that it’s always changing. Seth saw the change a’ comin’, and he made himself a thought-leader. He did it through this blog. Through consistency. His ideas were so great, people started begging him to teach them. He proves the theory – content is king. Consistency is queen. Do these two things, and you’ll build yourself a kingdom, no matter what you’re doing. In a world where everyone will tell you, “oh, you have to be optimized and you need keywords and embedded links to rank on Google”, Seth proved them all wrong. You need a story. Tell your story, and tell it often, and people will hear it. Heck, look at his blog’s URL …it’s the same blog he started with. His entries aren’t full of hyperlinks and pictures and trackbacks. He just tells us a story about how marketing can work, and you’ll want to read it every day.

His latest book, We Are All Weird, is waiting at the library for me, today, and I’m going to ride my bike up there and grab it this afternoon.


Many of you are probably rolling your eyes, right about now. “Don,” you ask? “Seriously, you’re going to tell us one of your favorite blogs is spunkybean, which is your own blog?” Well, yes, I am. But not for the reasons you think. It’s a success story in spite of me. It’s a success story because of EJ and Myndi, the co-authors who refuse to surrender, no matter what. And that, my friends, is how you succeed as a writer and blogger. spunkybean’s also a success because of Mike W., who taught himself all the back-end stuff (like SEO and meta-data) so EJ and Myndi could focus on writing about things they love …television and TV shows. Mark my words …before it’s all said and done, EJ and Myndi are going to be full-time entertainment writers. spunkybean was founded 6 years ago by a friend of mine. He read my blog entries on my personal blog about American Idol. He said, “hey, I’m creating a pop-culture website and you can write your blog entries there.” I said, “yes.” Then I recruited a few other writers, and snagging EJ and Myndi was one of the more (only) brilliant moves I’ve ever made. You can’t have a TV-related blog if you only love one show (which, for me, was American Idol, still is Survivor, and to a lesser extent, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette). EJ and Myndi are perfect examples of people who write about what they love. So what if it’s TV and everything that’s ever existed on TV. They aren’t alone. And with their content, and Mike’s SEO stuff, nearly 10,000 readers stop by every month to hear what EJ has to say about Batman and Venture Brothers, and what Myndi loves about Dancing With the Stars, Big Brother, and anything else awesome on TV.

Why you should read it? Because you’ll see what true passion and love looks like. Read what I said about Seth Godin, again, and you’ll see …a blog can succeed without banner ads and SEO tricks …it just needs content born of passion, enthusiasm, and love.

There you have it. Three blogs that kick some serious butt. Three blogs I read and that make me a better blogger (and, yes, I still blog at spunkybean from time to time).

Thanks for reading. Wanna know how I can say anything in 140-characters or less? Follow me and talk to me on Twitter @donkowalewski.

Things I Think: This Show Looks Good

Pardon the randomness of this post, but here’s a show I’m definitely going to be watching. And I’m going to be writing about it at spunkybean. And I’m really, really looking forward to this show. But I can’t tell you why. But if you were my friend in college, you might also want to watch this show.

The show is going to be on HGTV and is called Brother v. Brother, which features those two Property Brothers dudes, Jonathan and Drew Scott, and they’re leading two teams who’ll go head to head (under their leadership) to fix up some houses or something and then someone will win and someone will lose. What do they call those shows? Oh …yes …reality shows. I love those things.

But I can’t say why I particularly wanna watch this show. I covered that, right?

I just can’t say. So stop asking.

Oh, and if you were one particular friend of mine from college, and you are letting me help you with your social media and Facebook and stuff, here’s what I’d post if I was running your blog…

Write something like, “Hmmmmm …this show looks really interesting to me and I can’t wait to see who all those blurry people are in the background.”

Then I’d link to this article.

Then I’d embed the clip (which I’m actually having some difficulty with). Then I’d make a fist and punch the air …because I’m awesome. Well, you’re awesome.

Here’s the preview

Is anyone picking up what I’m throwing down? Good luck, you (and “you” know who “you” are).

Brother v. Brother premiers on July 21st. Set your DVRs and Tivo and mark your calendar.

Follow me at @donkowalewski.

Things I Do: Write about Survivor, Phillipines

One of the things I do when I’m not posting pictures of the ties I’m wearing and when I’m not …um …oh, man, I guess there’s not much else I do, come to think of it. Well, anyway, let’s say I had a really active social life and lots of hobbies and I did charity work …when I managed to get a break from all that stuff, I’d tell you that I write about TV shows. Namely …Survivor.

Way back when I first started blogging, in order to fill space, I’d write about TV shows. It was revolutionary and nobody believed it could be done. “Don,” they’d say. “Why would anyone watch a show and then want to read about what they’ve just watched? After all …it’s why TV and movies were invented, so nobody would have to ‘read the book’ ever again.”

But I forged ahead, undeterred, thinking everyone would want to know what I thought of a TV show instead of what they, themselves, thought of it. In the end, I was right …people loved to read about what they already watched and spunkybean was born.

This, however, is not a history of spunkybean …this is a shameless plug of my writing that’s currently posted at another website. This is a blog entry with two links and some well placed keywords that will make my #Survivor recap more “sticky” and “viral”, even though I’m not sure it actually will.

On Wednesday’s Survivor, someone went home who I think didn’t have to go home, and if she hadn’t taken the “I’m very angry and I’ve been wronged” approach and instead tried the “friendly” approach, I think she wouldn’t have been voted off. But it’s early, and truthfully, nobody eliminated before the merge really has any shot of being memorable.

Later today there’ll be another tie and I might write about how I write about The Amazing Race. Oh, yes …I do that, too.

Follow me @donkowalewski or ‘Like’ my pop-culture TV page, spunkybean Or follow my Tumblr blog.