Tuesday, March 28, 2017
I don't keep up with television these days.
My wife and daughters will tell me what's his face is a star of such and such, or she's in that reality thingie, but the truth is I'm completely clueless.
Haven't watched Game of Thrones. House of Cards. Empire. The Big Bang Theory or a hundred other shows that have the country's attention but certainly not mine.
If my TV is on, it is no doubt tuned to a sporting event or one of many news shows documenting our collective nosedive into corruption, incompetency and general douchebaggery.
But my day was lifted when I read that Leah Remini had been renewed for a second season of her hit show, Scientology and the Aftermath.
Quick Recap: 35 years ago, Brooklyn-born actress Leah Remini, moved to LA and became a follower of L. Ron Hubbard. She studied hard. Put her hands on soup cans. Told all. Gave money. Became an actress. Became a fabulously wealthy actress. Donated all her money to Scientology. Caught whiff of their bullshit. Left the "church." And then, with the assistance of the A&E network and a full production crew, took the whole lot of these scummy brainfuckers to PoundTown.
The first season was delicious.
With scathing interviews of those who left the church. Or, more precisely were 'disconnected' for daring to have an opinion or voicing the slightest dissent.
Even more compelling was Leah's look at some of the devilish and Fascist practices of Tom Cruise and his merry band of walletdrainers.
These are evil people. Demanding excessive Kool Aid drinking. Forcing followers into slavery. And doing whatever it takes to squash dissent and keep the money flowing upstream towards the leadership circle.
Sounds eerily similar to advertising, no?
Perhaps that's why I'm such an ardent fan of Ms. Remini. She puts truth above all. And says the things no one else will say.
In that sense, we are two peas in a pod.
Of course, her pod consists of a huge mansion in Beverly Hills, and she gets the celebrity treatment wherever she goes and will receive enough residual checks to last an eternity. Or until L. Ron Hubbard returns from Planet Zebulon.
My pod is soggy, half eaten and sitting under an orange peel at the bottom of an in-sink garbage disposal.
Monday, March 27, 2017
If you've ever been to upstate New York, you've seen these signs.
If you grew up in upstate New York, not only have you seen these signs, you're expected to know about each and every one of them.
There's a quiz tomorrow.
To that end, I can tell you where Mad Major Anthony Wayne had his boots shined. Where John Quincy Adams enjoyed his first pale ale. And where young George Washington, father of our country, visited an Onondaga sweat lodge, sat with naked native Americans and felt the need to rub one out.
Scattered about Rockland and Westchester counties you will also find many markings about the infamous Benedict Arnold, the first two names in American treason. But after last week, old Benny might be given a run for his money.
That's right, I've taken the long circuitous route through the hamlets of upstate New York and the ugly memories of 11th grade high school to talk about Precedent Shitgibbon.
Because what we are seeing and what we are witnessing is nothing short of history in the making.
We now know, through the testimony of our FBI Director James Comey, that there has been an ongoing investigation into the nefarious relationships between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. A relationship that has already resulted in the disgraceful resignation of Michael Flynn, whose title was National SECURITY Advisor. A man who also turned out to be a paid agent of a foreign Islamic country, no less.
If that were not incriminating enough we also had our own Grand Wizard...er, I mean Attorney General, recuse himself from any further investigation because he lied, under oath, about his relationship with the Russkies. Though I suspect his recusal will be as effective as Shitgibbon's divestment from his own businesses.
Hello, emoluments clause anyone? Emoluments?
And now, we have Representative Adam Schiff, from the House Intelligence Committee telling us there is solid evidence of collusion that goes beyond circumstantial.
Good night nurse!
We are talking about Treason and the incompetent, evil twatbiscuits in the White House in the same breath!
Did you know that Treason is the only crime defined in the Constitution of the United States? And according to Article III, it is defined by "giving aid and comfort to the enemy." There can be no disagreement that Russia is, and has been, our enemy. Their stated goal is the destruction of the West.
Some may argue that releasing emails stolen from the DNC is nothing more than soft persuasion. OK, but it was done to further the interests of our sworn adversary. And to collude with them or coordinate those releases is nothing short of giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
The irony could not be any sweeter.
The candidate and the party so willing to whip out the Constitution and whip their red meat constituents into a frenzy, are soon going to be scouring and parsing the very same document in search of a loophole to save their own worthless, borscht-soaked asses.
I say hang them high.
And get one of these blue historical markers ready for the front lawn at Mar A Lago.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Geez, it's getting harder and harder to make $62.73 cents these days.
Months ago, you might recall, I signed up for the blogspot online advertising programs. It's called Adsense. By doing so I agreed to let Google -- the host of RoundSeventeen-- begin placing ads on my daily online content.
You might have even noticed the ads running alongside these posts.
Ads for Nest Thermostats, Sonos speakers, an all Muslim Banking Organization that lends money in strict accordance with the Koran, the Tushy Bidet System, and Red Lobster. These ads pop up in accordance with the algorithms generated by each posting.
Since starting the Adsense program I have racked up a stunning $62.73 earnings.
Incredible right? I knew this writing thing would pay off some day.
Of course, that someday hasn't arrived yet as Google will not cut any checks until the balance reaches $100. At this rate, my kids could be out of college and I could be sipping sirloin puree at a dirty nursing home before I collect my windfall.
But your apathy and refusal to click on one of our treasured advertisers is not the only obstacle to my future wealth.
Recently I received a warning from Google. Apparently one of my posts from 2013 contained a picture of a woman baring a little too much breast. I was scolded, slapped on the wrist and told that if I did not modify the offending ad my entire advertising fortune would be at risk.
And that my participation in the Adsense program would be curtailed. They even sent me a little blurb about their policies.
Naturally, I found this quite amusing.
And naturally, being the boat rocker that I am (or as Chiat/Day might put it -- a Pirate, aaaargh) I've decided to push back against the powers that be. Hence the picture above.
I'm also a bit flattered.
And enjoy knowing that some poor schmuck at Google has been assigned to monitor my compliance and will be forced to scour RoundSeventeen on a daily basis.
That bumps me from 8 regulars readers everyday to 9.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
This is not a political rant.
It's about Precedent Shitgibbon and the current state of our nation but it's not about politics.
And here's why. You and I can have differing opinions regarding health care, military budgets, economics, etc.
Moreover, at least in my case, perhaps in yours as well, those opinions can change over time. For instance, while I consider myself pro-choice, I distinctly remember questioning my longheld beliefs regarding abortion once I went through the process of prenatal care, sonograms and fatherhood.
Similarly, while I initially supported George W. Bush and the strong reaction to the 9/11 attacks, in retrospect, I wish we had been more measured and more tactical in our response.
The point is, we can have a civil discourse about those differences and in the end agree to disagree.
That's what grown ups do. They understand everything is not black and white and make room for nuance. Remember nuance?
But today, the issues are not the issue. What concerns me and what should concern you, even if we are diametrically opposed on every matter, is the illiterate man/child who holds the fate of the free world in his tiny vulgarian hands.
He is a Liar.
All politicians are liars, but his lies are toxic, born from paranoia. And they are a literal and growing threat to our way of life.
President Obama did not wiretapp Trump Tower. We know this because James Comey, head of the FBI said it. The Senate Intelligence Committee said it. Paul Ryan said it. And congresspeople from both sides of the aisle have said it.
Congratulations Precedent Shitgibbon, for the first time in my life I am believing the words coming for the mouths of our federally elected officials.
Here's another newsflash, contrary to the ramblings of Truther Andrew Napolitano, a man whose hair seems to be feeding on his brain cells, British spies also didn't have wiretapps hidden throughout Trump Tower. So egregious is the charge, they made an unprecedented public denial -- something spy agencies are loathe to do.
And while it is beyond amusing to watch Shitgibbon surrogates like Spicey, KAC and Jeffrey Lord dance on the head of a needle to parse the words and find some cause for the libelous charges, it is now fundamentally dangerous.
Because in doubling down on the double down, we are now hearing a growing tin-foil chorus about the sinister powers of the alleged Deep State -- a fictional underground cabal of Democrats, liberals and progressives who are pulling the strings of government and conspiring to bring down Precedent Shitgibbon.
This is farcical on so many levels.
And begs the question, if there is an all-powerful Deep State capable of ruling from the shadows, why allow this craven, fen-sucked twatbiscuit in the White House in the first place?
No, this is Illuminati, Trilateral Commission, Bilderberg Group, Free Mason, Rothschild Banker, New World Order, Conspiracy Theory type bullshit!
This should scare the pants off you, even if you are a Killary-hating, red-hat-wearing, Confederate flag waving Tea Partier.
Because Truth and our shared notion of what defines Truth is under attack. And once that goes, Justice and the American Way are sure to follow.
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
I know it was more than three months ago, but I remember it vividly.
Because I was working. It was one of those long drawn out new business pitches. You know the ones. You work like a dog. Weekends, nights and days filled with stale coffee, limp pizza and colleagues who desperately need a bath.
And finally the big day arrives.
You emerge from the pitch feeling good. Analyzing the body movements. Rehashing the highlights. And picking apart every snippet of dialogue.
"How about when the client asked about tissue sessions? And remember when they talked about the friends and family discount? Oh man, I think it went great. I have a good feeling about this one."
And then, a week later, the client calls and says they urgently want Another Presentation.
Yeah, those new business pitches.
That's why my partner and I found ourselves scratching out new concepts on Christmas Eve. And again, on December 25, the very birthday of our Lord and Savior. And on Boxing Day. And every day thereafter. Until the NCAA college football champ had been crowned.
Mind you, I'm a creative mercenary and was getting a decent day rate, so I'm not complaining. At all.
Plus, I'm an atheist Jew so not only was I happy that I had something to do on Christmas, I was feeling quite flush, so that night when ordering our ritualistic Chinese food to go, I sprung for the General Tse Chicken as well as the Sweet and Sour Lobster.
Sometimes you just gotta live like a millionaire.
But now I look up at the calendar and notice that today is the first day of Spring.
And the potential new client who called for the urgent additional presentation and turned over the apple cart on so many staffers who had to re-arrange their Christmas plans has still not made a decision.
"Mommy and Daddy will take you to Disneyworld next year. Promise (fingers crossed)."
Industry pundits and observers wonder why ad agency morale is so low.
Monday, March 20, 2017
There was a time when a sign like the one above would have precluded half my family. As of yesterday, that is no longer the case.
My firstborn just turned 21.
Hard to believe.
I look terrible for a man of 29.
It seems like only yesterday my wife would emerge from the bathroom, show me her ovulation kit and send me scurrying to the local Whack Shack to fill up the cup with 15-20 million little swimmers in the hope that one would break through and do the touchdown dance.
Oh, you want to read more about our hilarious travails through Fertility Hell? Well, it's all documented in the book RoundSeventeen & 1/2, The Names Have Been Changed to Protect the Inefficient, still on sale via amazon.com
Today, Monday, you will not find me in my office writing banner ads for the local hi-colonics clinic or disruptive page takeovers for pUber, the newest break through in Internet, community-based dog doo removal.
Nor will I be hounding Creative Resource Managers for the next gig, like the 10,000 other available freelancers who seem to have misplaced their dignity and have been reduced to public begging.
Either you want a smart writer who can solve your marketing challenges quickly, efficiently and inexpensively. Or you'll call Erik Moe.
Today, my wife and I and the newest grown up in the house will be trekking up to a local Winery in Malibu.
There, the three Siegel simpletons will speak in hushed tones and mock our fellow wine drinkers.
"This one has a nutty glow and a strong cherry finish."
"I found this to be fruity, robust and ambitious."
"Where's the bourbon? Do you guys make bourbon?"
We will eat like adults.
We will drink like adults.
And if all goes according to plan, we will be getting home like Uber passengers.
Thursday, March 16, 2017
I'm a Jeopardy Freak. When I get booked for a job and need to work onsite, I often make it clear that day starts at 9 or 9:30 and goes until Just-Enough-Time-To-Jump-On-The-405-So-I-Can-Get-Home-For-Jeopardy.
Don't talk to me about DVR's, I want to watch the show live.
One reason I love Jeopardy is because while I don't know a lot about things, I do know a little about a lot of things. Geography. History. Biology. Sports. State Capitols. All in my wheel house. English Royalty, Shakespeare, literary characters (though I'm working on this), not so much.
And on any given night I generally fare better than the contestants.
Which brings me to more confession time.
When it comes to watching Jeopardy, I'm a multi-screener. Meaning that while Alex is making some dumb misogynistic remark...
"Tonight we've got the little ladies. I hope these clues blow wind up your skirts."
...I also like to keep my iPhone at the ready.
Because the only thing more enjoyable than watching these contestants and their little ticks, is dialing up the Twitter search to see the real time tweets of fellow Jeopardy viewers. Nothing brings out the best in people more than a buxom paralegal from Des Moines who knows that Vilnius is the capitol of Lithuania.
"Jeopardy contestant Karen has the best breasts I've ever seen. I'd like to father her children."--@doug127
Doug is hardly alone. Turns out there are many lovelorn fans out there in Jeopardy world. And every woman who appears on the show, regardless of her appearance, is subject to these unsolicited attempts at woo. Not all of them so poetic.
"The minute she's off the show I want to drive that redhead Chrystal, straight to PoundTown." --@horndog58
Of course testosterone is a fickle beast and sometimes the tweets turn the other way, particularly when a contestant has an annoying lisp, or twitch, or even the way he holds the buzzer.
"I'd like to take that buzzer out of Rob's hand and shove it where the sun don't shine. Where the sun don't shine for 800, Alex." --@angryman29
Jeopardy has it all: trivial knowledge, contestant watching and contestant watching-watching. It's the trifecta of uselessness. Add to that the aura of unrequited sex and empty threats of violence.
It's a pitch perfect reflection of America 2017.
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Last week, I read with great jealousy, the story about the social media manager for Wendy's, whose only job is to scan, reply and troll the Internet, looking for snarky opportunities to pimp the brand. I'd give up my left pinkie finger for a paying gig like that.
But since that's not happening anytime soon, I've channeled my energy and began making my own Internet memes.
I also discovered an outlet for these memes that gives me access way beyond my 1500 or so friends and followers on social media.
It's a Facebook Group that goes under the name: New Rules With Bill Maher And Now This With John Oliver. It's a fan club of more than 40,000 members.
You'd think this group of satire fans would be smart, savvy and streetwise.
And you'd be wrong.
I recently posted this:
To which one brain-dead respondent who did not spot the satire, replied:
"OMG, this guy is a nut case."
"He's soooooo dumb. Apparently no intelligence or experience necessary for the WH."
And one more:
"HUD is so fuc*ed."
I guess dimwittedness can be found on both sides of the aisle.
But my favorite reply came in response to a fake tweet I had posted. A woman from Texas, lets call her Ruth (because that's her name) took issue with me posting funny material on a site dedicated to funny material.
After Precedent Shitgibbon accused President Obama of wiretapping and generally being a bad sick guy, I went one further and posted this:
Ruth, would have none of that and scolded me in public. And naturally I took every opportunity to turn her anger into my personal playground.
I hope I get to hear from Ruth again.
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Got stopped in my tracks the other day.
I saw a clip of a scientist answering a question about extraterrestrial life, a topic that's in the news quite a bit these days.
The scientist, it might have been Neil Degrasse Tyson or Bill Nye, said the question is very binary.
"There are really only two possibilities. Either there is life on other planets and considering the size of the Universe that would be billions of other planets. That's scary enough. Or, and this is a big Or, there is no life on other planets, meaning we are all alone."
His logic cannot be faulted.
And I suppose instinctually I always knew this. But I never gave it much thought. However, because we are now witnessing the apocalyptic arrival of the Four Horsemen, including the dumb one with orange hair, it merits further thought.
If you've ever seen one of those informative Angstrom-Light Year scale videos you know we are merely riding a speck of dust in an inconceivably large canvas of space that fries the human mind. It stands to reason that somewhere out there, among the trillions and trillions of other galaxies and planets there is life.
This is even more probable then Mama June gaining back more than 100 lbs. and renewing her love of soda pop.
It also stands to reason that among those life sustaining orbs, there is a civilization or multiple civilizations that are way beyond our mere 5000 years of "progress." Living organisms who have been kicking around the cosmos for 10,000, or 100,000 or even a million years. Meaning they have mastered mind control, time travel and the proper method for rebooting the modem and reconnecting to the internet.
Should we encounter one of these advanced civilizations you can be sure they would take one listen to Sean Spicey or his boss, the frothy, boil-brained wagtail and decide that Earth was worthy of an instant zapping of the Death Laser.
After all, nobody wants to live in a neighborhood with White Trash.
On the other hand, the scarier hand, we are all alone.
The only living beings for billions of light years in all directions. A fragile zoo sustained only by our wits and the haphazard whims of an angry bearded zookeeper who professes to loves us and bless us but instead taunts us with tornados, earthquakes, cockroaches, Steve Bannon and Auschwitz.
I am less comfortable with the latter paradigm. Because it lends credence to the legion of religious and political miscreants who have done nothing but add pain and suffering to our short history.
Moreover, it raises the real viability of a heaven and a hell.
And frankly, while I have no interest spending an eternity in the hot place, wiping sweat from behind my ears and knees, I'm even less thrilled by the alternative. I'm not a robe or a violin or cheery morning person.
Thankfully there's the warm, soothing, alcoholic-comfort of 21st century Nihilism.
Yeah, fuck it all.
Monday, March 13, 2017
I want to show restraint.
I want to put on the muzzle.
And filter my thoughts, my rage, my utter disbelief.
But I can't and must ask, "What the Fuck is going on out there?"
At one time there was an understanding between clients who needed advertising and agencies who provided advertising that messaging, or the creation of the advertising vehicle -- whether it was a TV spot, an outdoor board, or even in today's parlance, a brand engagement unit -- required time.
Time to dwell on the challenge. Time to map out a plan. Time to sketch some out thoughts. Throw those thoughts away and come up with better thoughts. Time to turn those thoughts and brain itches into actual ideas. Time to craft those ideas into tangible communications pieces. Time to assess, evaluate and improve on the next round of advertising.
That's all changed. And those changes are reflected in how I'm getting booked for jobs these days.
It used to be:
"Hey Rich, we have a big pitch coming up. Some meaty stuff. A whole brand turnaround. Are you available for the next three weeks?"
Then the holding companies decided to run cleaner, leaner and meaner, emphasis on meaner. And it turned into:
"Hey Rich, we have a big pitch coming up. Some meaty stuff. A whole brand turnaround. Are you available for the next three days?"
And now, thanks to obscene compensation packages divied out to holding company C-Suiters, it's more like:
"Hey Rich, we have a big pitch coming up. Some meaty stuff. A whole brand turnaround. Are you available for the next 3/4 of a day?"
In the past week, I have fielded more than a few of these partial day gigs.
And I've spoken with fellow freelance colleagues who are doing the same.
You might be wondering, if it's possible to make a living on a slew of half day jobs. Of course it is. How do I do it? If I may borrow a punchline from an old Jewish joke.
And when push comes to shove, I'd still prefer to work this way than to deal with agency bureaucracy, status meetings, and the non-stop briefings, re briefings and re-re-briefings.
But here's what clients, agencies and creative resource managers have to know.
When you hire me for half a day or just a few hours, you're not getting the best ideas in my head.
You're just getting the first.
Saturday, March 11, 2017
To the Honorable Recep Tayyip Erdoğan,
With the unfortunate sudden departure of Lt. General Michael Flynn, it’s my understanding that you may be looking for a new lobbyist in Washington, DC.
At first glance, I may not strike you as the most qualified candidate.
However, upon second glance you will notice that I have spent the bulk of my 44 years as an advertising copywriter. And made quite a decent living in the area of persuasion. Effectively getting people to want, what they don’t even need --everything from brown fizzy sugar water to desktop computers.
In 2002, while a Group Creative Director at the esteemed Young & Rubicam, we staged the Unwrap A Jaguar Sales Event and sold more crappy Jaguar X-Types than ever before.
I don’t possess any experience in the Beltway, but it’s clear from the last 5 weeks that is hardly an impediment.
You may be asking, “why leave the lucrative world of advertising for the world of international lobbying?”
Well, even if I were to charge the excessive day rates of my NYC colleagues or double dip, writing manifestos, banner ads and page takeovers, there’s no way I could rack up the $530K you paid Mr. Flynn.
Make no mistake however, my motives are more than monetary.
I have a genuine interest in geo-politics. Though I’ve never been to Turkey, I will say that Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I have had your taffy. And in my humble opinion, the Alan Parker-helmed Midnight Express still stands as a cinematic masterpiece.
Also, my children are in college so my wife and I have a great deal of flexibility. And if I can be frank with you, Recep, we can use a change of scenery, as the neighbor’s dog never stops barking.
I’ve enclosed a resume for your perusal. Please let me know as soon as possible so I can give ample notice to the movers.
Thursday, March 9, 2017
Actually, it's Saturday morning, as I write all these blog postings in advance, but for the purposes of today's piece, let's just say it's Thursday.
And to be frank, I'm all written out.
I'll tell you why, though I suspect you won't want to hear it. I've started writing another book. A novel. Nothing to do with advertising. Or African scammers. Or even anything meaningful. But, a novel nonetheless. And as I am finding out, it takes a lot of discipline.
And a lot of words on the page.
I've committed myself to knock out 500 words, at the very least, every day until this mountain of a project is complete.
Consequently I might come up a little short by the end of the week. Or the beginning of the following week. You do the math. However, to maintain my prodigious record of Monday thru Thursday postings for the past 8 years, I give you a potpourri of photos found on my iPhone.
Make of them what you will.
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
This is for my advertising friends and colleagues.
Tell me if this has ever happened to you. Tell me if you've ever had this internal discussion with yourself, your grown up self.
"Wow. This is an expensive shoot. I can't believe the client flew us all the way to (exotic destination goes here.) I can't believe they put us up at this fancy schmancy hotel. And that they're paying for this holy-shit expensive restaurant. I wonder how many more whatchamacallits, doohickies or thingamajigs they'll have to sell just to cover the cost of shooting my idea?"
If you haven't had that chat, it's time you did.
"Oh waiter, make mine the Kobe Beef. Thank you."
I bring this up because once again our ad brethren are packing up their Capri pants, Fedora hats and beard manicuring paraphernalia and heading to Austin for the SXSW.
Here, they will drink undrinkable pine-flavored IPAs, listen to unlistenable music (?) and fawn over the latest shiny-new technology designed to wow clients, impress judges at Cannes and produce .00027 cents worth of profit.
Full disclosure: I've never been to SXSW.
But I have been at the ad agency when the "leadership" and "digerati" return from SXSW. And it's not pretty.
A lot of platitudes and -- pardon the excessive air quotes-- "inspirational" speeches about abandoning the old school ways of marketing and "reinventing" ourselves to adapt to the new, more targeted, more efficient ways of conversing with our consumers. Zzzzzzzzzzz.
You know, like Google Plus, Vine and Foursquare.
Maybe, just maybe, I'm an out-of-the-loop hopeless dinosaur stuck in the aging mass media tar of TV, print and radio. But I am sensing the pendulum coming back the other way. And that's cause for optimism.
In any case, here's a sneak preview of some the exciting events I will NOT be attending next week:
March 11th, 10AM-Noon, Roosevelt Conference Room at the Intercontinental. "Incubating, Granular Infomediaries -- a new approach to selling orthotic shoe inserts."
March 12th, 2PM- 4PM Jo's Coffee. "Let's All Slack -- Because there are never too many cooks in the kitchen. Or ways to set up a meeting."
March 13th, 9 AM-10 AM, Parking Lot at the Highlander Hotel. "Harnessing the Power of Mission Critical E-Tailing." Limited seating.
March 15th, 1PM--11PM HandleBar. "Generating Endless, Synergistic Methodologies -- if one strategy is great, two or three is even better."
March 19th, Closing Ceremonies, Festival Fairgrounds. Souvenoir lanyards and Participant trophies will be passed out to all attendants.
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Recognize this flag?
Let me narrow it down for you.
It's not Portugal. Or Peru. Or New Zealand. Or Bolivia. Or Laos. Or Bali. Or Ceylon. Or any of the 200 other sovereign nations, I would have preferred as destination for my daughter's studying abroad elective.
This is Kenya.
Wedged between the newly formed and rambunctious South Sudan and the failed state and home of Africa's ugliest pirates, Somalia. This is where my oldest daughter will be heading in June. A decision that has already taken 5 years off my life.
My heart was as strong as an ox. It's now been downgraded to a lemur. Or a prairie dog. Or one of those baby deer that are often seen on the National Geographic channel, running across the Serengeti and losing a mortal foot race to a hungry, merciless cheetah.
It should be noted that my daughter is majoring in Public Health and hopes to go from the University of Washington to do something in medical research. Or, god willing, become a doctor. So it makes sense that Public Health majors travel to the countries most in need of Public Health services.
But damnit, Kenya.
It's not even on the good side of Africa. It's on the eastern side with bloody civil unrest and crazy Islamists. Fuck, there's not one spear on the flag, there are two. This is not a place for a nice Jewish girl from Culver City.
Moreover, it's not as if the Siegels have made many friends on the continent.
What if, and I'm only conjecturing, the scammers in Nigeria catch wind of my daughter's impending visit? By the way, my first book is still on sale on Amazon and can be yours for just $15.99.
She doesn't board the plane for Kenya for another three months so I still have time to learn to meditate and practice my deep breathing techniques.
And, if she'll take me up on my offer, three months is also plenty of time for my daughter to learn the basics of Krav Maga.
Monday, March 6, 2017
Life doesn't hand you too many game changing moments.
Our days are filled with complaints about work, paying bills, picking up dog poop in the yard and sharing political revelations with our loved ones, more often preceded with the ubiquitous...
"Holy shit did you see what Shitgibbon tweeted today?"
Last week, I turned 44 years old, the midway point. An excellent time to consider what the second half, god willing, the next 44 years will bring. I'm happy to say there is cause for optimism.
First, my sassy daughter sent me this coffee mug (pictured above) that magically changes all the red electoral states -- the ones in the middle and the bottom, you know where you can walk around without footcoverins' -- back to blue states and some semblance of 21 century living.
This is achieved by heat transfer which apparently is a lot easier than knowledge transfer.
But the true life changing moment came compliments of my wife and the good people at Amazon.
I had seen these artificial intelligence home appliances before. In TV commercials -- remember those? And via friends who were early adopters. I just never thought I'd want one. Or need one. Now, after a week I can't imagine living without Alexa.
I don't know what I like more, the fact that she can answer so many questions and do so many things. Or that she responds immediately, with unconditional obedience. And with no lip. That Joaquin Phoenix movie, HER, is making so much more sense to me now.
What's even more interesting is how Alexa is a living, learning entity that will do more and more with the passage of time.
I'm already preparing a list of questions.
"Alexa, do the dishes."
"Alexa, make my neighbor's dog shut up."
"Alexa, fix the garbage disposal.
"Alexa, get me more than one day to create a brand turnaround."
"Alexa, restore professional courtesy and make people return emails."
"Alexa, get rid of that smell in my car."
"Alexa, cull the freelance herd."
"Alexa, make the batteries in my remote control last longer."
"Alexa, inform my wife that I will never like broccoli or cauliflower."
"Alexa, remove this paranoid, lumpen, moldy-minded spunktrumpet from the White House."
Thursday, March 2, 2017
There's a lot not to be happy about these days.
The ad industry is a state of disarray. Clients want more for less. Agencies pay less and want more. And as a result, agency staffers die on the job. Making advertising almost as dangerous as fire fighting and crab catching. But there are foosball tables.
On a more personal note, my neighborhood is also going through some changes. Older homeowners are leaving for that great California craftsman in the sky. And newer homeowners are moving in. All of them with loud, barking dogs who seem to live outside 24 hours a day.
And finally there's our Constitution-abusing Commander in Chief who has brought his questionable hygiene habits to the Mar-A-Lago and that other house in Washington, DC.
In light of all this, it helps to remind myself of a little anecdote I heard just a couple of weeks ago at a funeral for a friend of the family.
During a beautiful eulogy, the woman's daughter told the story of two little boys, each left in separate rooms.
In one room, the 6 year old finds himself surrounded by a truckload of shiny new toys. There are balls and guns and sticks and video games and everything a kid could ever want.
In the other room, his brother finds himself surrounded by shit. Stinky, smelly, shit, piled high from corner to corner, from wall to wall, from floor to ceiling.
The dad, comes back a few hours later.
The boy with all the toys is crying. Screaming like a baby. And throwing a tantrum fit for president. He tells the curious dad, "These aren't the toys I wanted."
The father opens the door to the adjoining room and finds the other boy, laughing, and smiling from ear to ear.
"What are you so happy?" asks the inquisitive Dad.
The grinning little boy explains, "Well, with all this shit, I figure there's gotta be a pony."
Wednesday, March 1, 2017
I usually charge a premium dollar for marketing advice.
Correction, a super premium dollar. Mostly because agencies today want it good and they want it fast. Therefore, by the Inverse Relationship of 21st Century marketing, they cannot have it Cheap.
But today, a day after my birthday and the anniversary of Round Seventeen, I'm giving it away for FREE.
And I'm giving it to a client that in no way deserves it.
Last year, at this very time I was involved in the pitch for the crown jewel of creative advertising. To say it was a miserable experience is to marginalize the word miserable.
We spent countless days dicking around their fakakta deals, trying to put in to English what was clearly devised in Cyrillic.
"It's two pizzas, with any choice of toppings for $6.99. But they have to be medium pizzas. And you can only choose any toppings for one then pay the regular price for the second pizza. Any toppings cannot include double meat. Offer not valid in 48 continental states."
Or something like that.
We also spent weeks trying to cram every item on their $5 Flavor Menu into a 30 second TV spot. When that wasn't schlocky enough, we had to make it work for a :15.
But by and large the most monumental waste of time was sitting down with a bunch of digital ninjas to try and reconfigure Pizza Hut's social presence. And create the obligatory Frivolous Fuckwadian Digital Knick Knacks™.
We had scavenger hunts up the wazoo.
Mindless photo uploads.
And some genius proposed turning the pizza box into a turntable. Of course some douchebiscuit company had already done that.
Here's my FREE advice with regards to social media, and this applies to so many other companies as well, particularly those with piss poor products or services, DON'T DO IT.
Spend your money fixing your shit. Make your pizzas better. Make your stores cleaner. Make your service people, service people. Just don't spend another dime on useless social salesfuckery.
Want proof? Of course you do.
Saunter on over to the Pizza Hut Facebook Page. It's not so much a congregation of fanboys and fan girls raving about the thick cut pepperoni or Garlic Stuffed Gordian Knots as it is a non-stop slew of pissed-off, outraged customers who wouldn't feed this slop to starving children in Sudan.
I found these without touching the scrolling device on my trackpad:
That's not by chance. I've been monitoring their FB page for almost a year now and this happens every day.
So do yourself a favor Pizza Hut, cut the chord. People call you when they're too damn lazy to make a meal or get out the house. It's that simple. They don't waste time thinking about you or your so- called brand. And they don't want to have a conversation with you.
People have got better things to do with their lives. They're not going to spend inordinate amounts of time reading every damn comment on every damn Facebook page...
...oh wait a minute.
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
When I started this blog my daughters were still pre-teenagers.
I was a strapping 35 year old man.
And we had a President who could identify Frederick Douglass, operate a computer and knew that Plessy v. Ferguson was not the undercard fight before Leonard v. Haggler.
Today, as I turn 44, Round Seventeen is about to enter its 9th year.
Those are the facts.
It's hard to believe this is the 1620th entry. Actually, when you consider all the entries I deleted -- posts about my white trash neighbors, my white trash neighbor dogs, planners who I have offended, religious people I have offended or just shit my wife said I had to take down immediately -- the number is considerably higher.
You'd have thought I would have run out of things to say, or mock, or complain about. And indeed when it comes to advertising, I've pretty much exhausted the field of topics: open seating plans, C suite corruption, work/life balance, flaming incompetency, rampant jargonese, and the endless horizon-stretching bullshit that frankly could fuel 100 blogs just like this one.
Morevover, I've resigned myself to the fact that none of it is gonna change. And to think that my small voice could alter advertising one way or another is both narcissistic and delusional.
Truth is, as long as I can keep doing this, and I can -- last week my partner and I knocked out 35 TV scripts in an embarrassing short time period and astounded the ECD -- I'm happy to sit on the sidelines, take hired gun projects and collect the checks.
Besides, I've been invigorated. Mostly, by the new beslubbering, milk-livered Basket-Cockle who calls himself our precedent.
It has all but filled me with a burning desire to click and clack until I can click and clack no more.
That means Round Seventeen could be around for another 8 years or until someone uncovers a video of Klavdiya and Fedosia emptying their bladders on our esteemed, unchin-snouted puttock.
Whichever comes first.
Monday, February 27, 2017
How the hell did I get to the top of FlatIron One in Boulder?
The story starts back in January when my daughter, Abby, a student at University of Colorado, asked if I wanted to visit for her sorority's Daddy/Daughter weekend.
She knows damn well I'm not the organized social function type of guy. Particularly when it comes to organized Greek functions, for which my disdain knows no bounds.
"You don't have to come. It probably won't be any fun. But if you want to let me know soon because I'd have to order the special Kappa Alpha Gamma Theta Delta T-shirt for you."
It should be noted that my daughter is a master of the passive/aggressive persuasion technique which I believe she learned at the Willows Community School -- the same private school Steve Bannon thought was too Jewish for his kids.
Clearly, I'm oblivious to this sly sales technique, but when I relayed the story to my wife, she told me in no uncertain terms that Abby desperately wanted me to visit. That I just needed to be able to read between the lines.
And so, I found myself, at 5:00 in the morning, boarding a jelly-tight packed flight to Denver.
Later that night, I managed to survive the alcohol-free BBQ dinner with 100 other reluctant dads and their overly-amped daughters. I did the chit-chat. I did the house tour. I even considered joining the crew for the next-day's exciting excursion for a guided tour of Mile High Stadium.
"Here's the player's locker room. Here are the showers. Here's where Payton Manning liked to take a dump."
But I skipped out on that and instead suggested a local hike.
We were joined by Abby's old roommate and her dad, a local Denverite whose company I actually enjoy.
I watch a lot of football and often scoff at the broadcasters who feel obliged to note that visiting players have difficulty with the Colorado altitude. Come on, they're professional damn athletes, it shouldn't bother them.
However, after 500 feet of elevation, I thought my heart was going to explode like a laser-guided Daisy Cutter. I had fuzzy visions of the Med-eVac crew hauling me out of there in a Sikorsky 925E.
"He kept telling us how much swimming and weight lifting and cardio training he'd been doing. Who would have thought he'd be done in by a 5 mile hike?"
Clearly, since I'm writing this in the past tense, I made it.
I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with my daughter. And I got a T-shirt out of the deal.
Plus some great pics.
Thursday, February 23, 2017
I love the Internet.
I love the instant access to news. I love the heated political debates and the opportunity to describe our precedent with words like fuckwomble, cockwaffle and jizztrumpet.
And I love being able to exert my growing prowess at chess on unsuspecting opponents from Iran, Libya and the Gaza Strip -- I'm sorry but beating random Jewhaters at a thinking man's game is so satisfying.
I also hate the Internet.
More specifically, I hate it when I can't get the Internet. And as I am sure many of you know that's not always easy.
In fact, on any given day I may have Internet on my desktop computer but can't access the wifi on my laptop or my iPhone.
Tomorrow, I might get the Internet on my thermostat and my smoke alarms but not on my desktop. It has literally become a Russian Roulette of high tech access.
This frustrates me to no end.
And has forced me into a non-stop routine of unplugging and plugging in the modem. Rebooting the router. Resetting the wireless connection. Reconfibulating the HTML, Java-script flick-flacks. And screaming at the fucking top of my lungs!
I've also had to acquaint myself with DHCP's, IP's, WPA Password protected LAN's.
Of course with no professional training, my track record of success with all this is questionable at best. Which inevitably leads to The Phone Call.
That Call always goes one of two ways.
After climbing the thorny phone tree and enduring 37 minutes of Musak, I will finally reach a live service representative. Someone who apologizes profusely for the wait and promises to fix everything that has been troubling me. And then, as if some scornful God is toying with me, the problems fix themselves. Instantly. Without any aid from Mr. or Ms. Helpful. And rendering the entire phone call a total waste of time.
Or, and this is what happens more often. I will be tapping my toes to the 38th minute of Musak version of Foreigner's Hotblooded and will be connected with a different live service representative who makes his or her home in Islamabad.
"Mister Rich, I am so very, very sorry to hear of the problems you are experiencing on your Spectrum inter webs. It would be of great pleasure to serve you today and return you to your state of complete satisfaction."
Hey Darbush, you seem like a very nice man and I'm sure you are very capable, but I can't understand a word you are saying. Can you switch me over to a supervisor? Someone who speaks the Queen's Tongue? And of course he does.
Only now, the accent is even thicker.
"Oh Mister Rich, I am so very, very sorry to hear of the problems you are experiencing on your Spectrum inter webs. It would be of great pleasure to serve you today and return you to your state of complete satisfaction."
Ah, shitsticks, I'm going to Starbucks.