Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mammoth Bound

Shutting down production here at roundseventeen. The ink wells have been drained. The hot type set on the shelf to cool off. And the ruby lithe paper all put away until we resume the daily nonsense in 2010.

The girls and I are headed up to Mammoth Mountain for skiing, tubing and lots of family dysfunctional bickering that will leave us scarred for many, many years.

Hope everybody has a a great holiday.

For those of you who believe, I wish you Season's Greetings.
And for those of you who don't, a hearty, happy, heathenous, Reason's Greetings.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holy Smokes

I must have passed this sign at the local Mini-Mart about 1000 times, but never noticed the sky rocketing price of cigarettes. Probably because I've never partaken in such a filthy, disgusting habit.

But God bless those that do.

Let's say a carton of ciggies is 50 bucks. A carton is equal to 10 packs.
If you smoke a pack a day (which I'm told is light) that requires about 30 packs a month or 3 cartons. 3 cartons at 50 bucks a pop is 150 dollars a month. Or 1200 dollars a year.

Now consider the fact that the state adds on a disincentive tax of about 25% and we're talking a good 300 to 400 dollars a year that every smoker puts into government coffers to pay for my roads, my trash collection and my sewer maintenance.

Plus, it can be argued, smokers pay higher health insurance rates, fund cancer research and generally subsidize healthcare for those us smart enough not to light up.

So thank you for smoking.

And remember, smoke 'em if you got 'em.
And if you don't got 'em, by all means, buy more.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Nipples


I know it's snowing and cold all along the East Coast, but here in Los Angeles it' s perfect December weather, 75 degrees and sunny. So naturally I found myself down at the beach. A lot of surfers were out today to catch some high rollers.

One dude was coming out of the water wearing his wetsuit. Before he grabbed his board to go back to his car, he unzipped the back of his wetsuit and rolled the top half down, exposing his hairless chest. That's when I noticed something that I had never seen before.

His nipples were very close to each other. Not like just a little close but really close. They couldn't have been more than 6 inches apart.

Had I been quick enough, and sly enough, I would have snapped a picture of his odd nipple placement with my iPhone. Sadly I did not. And I apologize to readers of this blog who have come to expect that level of professionalism.

But to give you an idea how unique this beach sighting was, I did a little internet research. You can go on the web and find men who like horses. Women who dig midgets. Couples who are into trampolines and chocolate.

That's the beauty of human sexuality. There's a little something for everyone.

What you won't find however is, men with nipples too close to each other.
Go ahead google the phrase.
I did.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Help me


You won't hear a lot of country western music at my house.

You'll hear classic rock, like Zepellin, Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen. You'll hear jazz like Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins . You'll hear Britney Spears, the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus.

But you won't hear country western.

Which makes my 12 year old daughter's obsession with Reba McCintyre so fascinating. For some reason or other, she is myopically focused on Reba. As you can see from the way she doodled all over her copy of Orwell's Animal Farm, she's also got a thing about OMG, extra fiber, stupid and lubriderm.


Naturally, I'm very confused.

And she's only 12 years old.
I can't imagine that in the coming years it's going to get less confusing.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Is it safe?

I spotted this in the parking lot of the supermarket the other day. Not quite sure that dentistry is an impulse buy. I'm trying picture the scenario that would deem this service necessary.

Mom comes out of the grocery store.
She starts loading the goods into the back of her minivan.
Then gets a nagging feeling she forgot something.
She checks the bags.

"Asparagus, check.
Milk, check.
Kitty Litter, check.

No, everything seems to be there...oh, wait, I have that impacted molar with the nagging gum abscess. I better get a route canal. Look there's a brightly colored Winnebago conversion ready to attend to all my immediate dental needs.

Hope the ice cream doesn't melt."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Things Jews Don't Do, PT.3

Three weeks after graduating Syracuse University in 19#*, I packed a duffelbag, got on a plane and moved to Los Angeles. For a month I literally slept on the roof of a frat house at UCLA (But that's another story.)

With a fresh sheepskin in hand, it was time to start a career. Unfortunately it took me a few years to figure what that career would be.

In the goofing off period in between, my father had secured me a job at his company's west coast distribution center in Gardena. That's where I joined a crew of ex-felons and card-carrying Crips and Bloods.

They taught me how to drive a forklift. And for longer than I care to remember, I hauled pallettes around and packed up trucks with industrial grade wire spools.

Once I sent out a truck with 200 spools of 20 gauge wire. Unfortunately the purchase order was for 20 spools of 200 gauge wire.

I never mastered the forklift like my heat-packing brothers.
But I was never as bad as this guy:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tony Not OKaye


A couple of weeks ago I posted a link to a column written by ad legend Ernie Schenck. The column was a celebration of the fiery spirit that once raged throughout the ad world but has since been tempered by a recession, the holding companies and rampant political correctness.

One of the lunatics cited by Ernie was Director Tony Kaye, who literally self-imploded with the post-production marketing of American X.

While Ernie's experience with Tony Kaye was nothing less than stellar, my experience with him was...less than stellar, that is. We were shooting a spot in Riverside and had what should have been a minor disagreement over the placement of a telephone in the shot. He wanted the phone in one place. I wanted it in another.

The disagreement turned into an argument. And the argument turned into something I've never experienced in my professional life. The angry words brought the shooting to a halt. With a full crew, a gaggle of account people and a slew of clients all watching, Tony grabbed a folding wooden chair, swung it high above his head and then proceeded to smash it onto the concrete floor.

The swinging/smashing/splintering of the wooden chair went on for a good 3 minutes until there wasn't a piece of that chair bigger than a matchstick. This was all accompanied by a fitful tantrum of words that would make a sailor blush.

When it was over, Tony walked off the set.

He came back 5 minutes later and acted like nothing had happened. He asked the lighting director to get ready for the next shot and was prepared to continue the shoot.

At this point the gloves were off and I intervened, telling him that we were not going to shoot another frame of film until he apologised to everyone on the set. I told him human beings don't act like that with other human beings. I called him an arrogant asshole. I told him that his station in life did not entitle him to behave boorishly.

Then I delivered the most crushing blow of all. I reminded him that he was like the other pimps of capitalism on the set that day. And that he was nothing more than a director, a director of television commercials.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Larry Flynt is right.

Larry Flynt is suing his nephews for trading off the esteemed family name and producing pornography that is an inferior product.

In an article published in yesterday's LA Times, Daniel DeCarlo, attorney for the Flynt nephews countered the claim with, "consumers of porn are careful and discerning when it comes to choosing products. Because they are well-versed with the brands that are out there, and carefully study the box before making a purchase, there is little chance that the nephews' line will be confused with Larry Flynt's films."

If you'll pardon the intentional pun, that argument is not going to stand up in court.

I'm not a purchaser of pornography, but years ago when my wife and I were trying to conceive, I did find myself at, how shall I say this, a "seed collection laboratory." In order to facilitate fertilization I had to fill the turkey baster with well, basting material. Fortunately the lab was wise enough and generous enough to provide a huge selection of films to assist in the process.

I can tell you first hand (again pun intended) that there was not a lot of careful discernment in my selection. Truth be told, they're all pretty much the same.

I don't know how other men pick their porn, it's generally not something we discuss with each other, but I usually go by title. And I'm a sucker (pun not intended) for a funny title. Something like "In and Out of Africa", "Forrest Hump" or "Free My Willy." And of course the all time classic, "Lawrence of A Labia."



Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Office

Yesterday I was browsing several websites on contemporary design and stumbled across this photo of my old office. So I thought I'd share this highly-glamorized shot of my former abode.

This picture was snapped before my partner and I were given the reigns to the Taco Bell account back in 1999. Before the gentlemen in the bottom cubicle (with pirate flag) left the agency and went on to lucrative careers as directors.

The offices, by any account, are an amazing place. A visual candyland that always stirs the "ooohs" and "ahhhhs." I spent close to 15 years with TBWA Chiat/Day and had a great time, but make no mistake, it is an office. A place where work gets done.

Sometimes at night.
Sometimes on weekends.
Sometimes on wedding anniversaries.
Or worse, during the seventh game of the World Series.

Let's also not forget that the work we're talking about is the ridiculously sublime work of advertising. A world of talking chihuahuas, animated mucus membranes and shameless actors who once had promising movie careers but now find themselves pitching discounted monthly phone plans.

As stimulating as it all may or may not appear, I'm here to tell you there isn't enough bright yellow paint or cool architectural angles in the world that can take the under-achieving sting out of..."Oh shit what are they going to put on my tombstone?"

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sasquatch in Manhattan

Lately there's been a lot of chatter about the Attorney General's plan to try the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks in NYC. The criticism has ranged from the ridiculous to the ridiculouser.

They say bringing the Guantanamo prisoners to US soil will pose a security threat. That the Islamisicts will have a platform to espouse their hate. That they will use the trials as a recruiting tool and fan the flames of terror.

These points are easily debunked. (see The Daily Show)

But over and above that, there's also this misguided attempt to apply Western logic to a people who do not abide by any logic, Western or otherwise. Let's remember, these are Caliphate-seeking people who are content to live in caves, marry goats and stone women in public squares for wearing pants.

The truth is, the precedent has already been set. In 1961, the Israelis snatched Adolf Eichmann from a farm in Argentina, flew him back to the homeland and put him (as well as the Third Reich) on trial.

Eichmann, chief engineer of the Holocaust, was given a platform to spew anti-semitism. It could have re-ignited the embers of Nazism. It didn't. Instead the world saw an evil little bureaucrat and took away a better understanding of the phrase, "I was only following orders."

When all is said and done, I think bringing the Muslim terrorists to Manhattan and trying them for their crimes will do more harm to their cause than any cruise missile or daisy buster could, though we should never undervalue the awesome pyrotechnic beauty of a direct hit.

I also think HBO ought to buy the broadcast rights to the trial and make it available via Pay Per View. At the very least we know it will have more drama than the recent Pacquiao vs Cotto fight.







Monday, December 7, 2009

Worst. Mom. Ever.

Last week the Los Angeles Times ran a lengthy expose on the tragic death of 6-year old Daevon Davis.

Davis was brutally murdered by the ex-boyfriend of Daevon's mom (and I use that word lightly), Tylette, a 23-year old mother of six...uh, make that five...children. It also detailed the years of drug abuse, neglect and total irresponsibility of the entire Davis clan.

When asked why she let her daughter run around at night and have so many unwanted pregnancies, Tylette's mother responded, "The girl needed her leisure time."

The Davis family is no stranger to tragedy. One of the uncles or cousins or brothers, (I couldn't keep track) was killed in a scuffle with the LAPD. They claimed he was an innocent choir boy on his way home from bible study, so the family sued and now they are awaiting a huge court settlement.

The story put my wife in tears.
It sent me directly to the keyboard to fire off a letter to the newspaper.

This weekend the LA times printed my missive, almost verbatim. Of course, with the demise of printed media, their circulation is not what it used to be. In fact, this blog actually has more regular readers. So for the 7 million of you who no longer read the newspaper, here goes:

(Re; Abuse begets abuse in a family's brutal legacy, 11/30/09.)


The Lord does not close a door without opening a window. Thankfully, this poor family has a $2.6 million dollar judgment pending. And as Tylette's mom stated, "...we can buy a 6 bedroom house so all my grandkids can live under one roof and Tylette (recently arrested for trying to stab her current boyfriend) can get custody of her children again." I only hope the Davis family saves some of that taxpayer money for the essentials of living: whiskey, cigarettes and crack cocaine.



Thursday, December 3, 2009

A real butterball

This year's Thanksgiving was extra special. Due largely to a 20 lbs. butterball with thunderous thighs and an infectious laugh.

Of course, I'm not talking about the turkey but the newest addition to the family--my nephew Jack. Next week my sister-in-law and her husband will be signing the final adoption papers and naturally, we are all thrilled.

I am particularly excited because Jack has shown a special fondness for me. OK, he's actually more fascinated by my mustache. But I'll take it as evidence of a special bond between us.

We both also happen to have been born on February 28th. And plans for a special double party are already underway.

Which means for the first time in a very long time, I can actually look forward to my birthday.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Kirk the Jerk

Recently, anthropologist and part-time child actor Kirk Cameron has been visiting college campuses to distribute his doctored version of Darwin's "Origin of Species."

The never-nominated thespian disputes the theory of evolution and is proselytizing the notion of Intelligent Design. He cites the teachings of his good friend, another intellect-free do-gooder, Ray Comfort.

In his now famous youtube video, Ray, a high school dropout from New Zealand (apparently he failed sheep sheering) contends that the banana, with its ridged sides and pull-tab opening is the perfect example of how our Creator put forth food on this planet designed for easily accessible human nutrition.

Though he conveniently skirts the issue of foods that defy any sense of intelligent design.

The coconut for example is just as prevalent as the tropical banana. However, coconuts are typically found a good thirty feet above the jungle floor. If one were to follow Ray's logic, wouldn't our Intelligent Designer in the sky have made some similar accommodations?

Instead of hanging coconuts on trees, he could have dangled them on bushes. Or, and this would have made life much more interesting, the Creator could have given humans the necessary equipment to easily access the white coconut meat, such as long giraffe like necks and rock-hard hands shaped like ball-peen hammers.

Of course, ball-peen hammer-hands would have made it incredibly difficult for Kirk to eat banana. Much less read and rewrite Darwin's book.




Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Who wants candy?

I love my daughters. I really do. I know if the situation arose, I would take a bullet, albeit a small caliber bullet, for them.

Like I said, I love my daughters.

But there are times, when I don't love them quite as much as the first day we drove them home from the hospital. Like when it's time to take out the garbage or make the beds or clean up the bathroom.

If you're a parent, you know exactly what I'm talking about. And if you're not a parent, well then you probably won't understand why I take so much joy in these Ally Bank commercials that are currently airing...


I know the premise of this commercial is rooted
in the cruel treatment of children.
But if you ask me, I think cruelty to children has taken a bad rap.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Prisoner 27439


Last week, I misspoke, I said I had never had any run-ins with the law. But after seeing a promo for MTV's new show "Jersey Shore" about the douchebags and douchebaguettes of Seaside Heights, I remembered a particular incident from the summer of '89.

Somehow, my buddies and I found ourselves sharing a huge rental house in Belmar with a bunch of gumbas and guidos. There was drinking. Drinking. And more drinking. At 2:30 AM we found ourselves on the porch enjoying the rancid ocean air and a joint. By 2:32, I found myself in the back of a squad car. With Stacey. Or Mindy. Or Donna. Who knows what her name was.

I only know that two undercover cops, slipped out from behind a bush and slapped some cuffs on us. Stacey/Mindy/Donna started throwing a fit. I, on the other hand, thought we were being Punked. Keep in mind that in 1989 Ashton Kushton was 11 years old. (Ironically enough, his "kids" and my kids go to the same expensive private school -- but that's another story.)

Fingerprints followed.
Mug shots were snapped.
And at 3:15 AM, I was escorted off to my room...uh, cell #8.

Though it smelt of of old urine, the cell was relatively clean. And I didn't have to bunk with anybody. So it gave me some quality time to think about the crime I had committed.

I wish I could show my appreciation to those undercover cops for selecting me out of the thousands of drunken hoodlums running around the streets of Belmar that night. I'd thank them for giving me a quality life experience and for setting my life on the right path.

And then I'd ask them where I could secure a copy of my old mug shot.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Here come da judge

I consider myself a fortunate man. I've never had a run-in with the law. And thankfully, never needed the services of a lawyer.

I almost had to evict a lazy tenant living in my condo a few years ago, but that worked itself out amicably. And there was an immediate family member threatening to drag my ass in to court over a few thousand dollars. That never reached litigation. (Though it still makes my blood boil to think about it.)

However if I ever found myself in need of a good lawyer, there's no way in the world I would reach out to an attorney named Binder. Or for that matter, Binder.


The truth is I wouldn't want my barrister to be sporting any type of head accessories,
with the possible exception of this one:


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

He shoots, he scores


Last week, in my posting about Jesus Camp, I pulled an image from catholicsupply.com. Years ago I stumbled on their site and found all kinds of fascinating Jesus paraphernalia. I had almost forgotten, but that fascination actually sent me to the telephones. That's right, I ordered one of those sports statuettes. (It was an easier time when employment was steady and disposable income was...well, disposable.)

So this weekend I went through the boxes in my garage to locate the errant Jesus Statue. Here is a picture of the Savior, hip-checking the boy in yellow and green and slicing his way through a porous defense to make the winning goal.

As you can see from the site, there were many statues to choose from. But I chose Gretzky Jesus. I'm no hockey aficionado but I do remember why I selected this particular piece.

You see in all the other sports, the Messiah is wearing sandals. But in hockey, he opted to lace up the leather and blades. Leading me to conclude that, while Jesus may indeed be able to walk on water, when that water is frozen, he needs skates.

Just like everybody else.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Lunatic Bin

I was freelancing at Saatchi and Saatchi recently, where I ran across a column written by my blogosphere buddy Ernie Schenck. Ernie is a legend in this business with more awards than I have gripes.

In his latest salvo, "I Miss the Lunatics", Ernie makes the case for the old days of advertising (like 10 years ago) when the creative department hallways were filled with tormented hotheads who simply wanted to do great adverting and get paid outrageous sums of money.

He pleads, "God almighty, people, doesn't anybody fight for creativity anymore?"

I can't speak for the current crop of creatives, but as a former purist with a volcanic temper I can tell you that fighting, throwing tantrums and displaying contempt for the bullshit that pervades this business, has not served me well.

Oh sure, I've won the awards, fathered several universally-recognized campaigns, made a full-length documentary film that premiered at Sundance, even got to jet around on a Gulfstream IV with Lee Clow, but look where that fiery lunatic-ism landed me -- the hard-scrabble land of freelance, where, if I'm lucky, I'll be awarded the assignment to write the next batch of coupon ads for the Mr. Mattress Sleep Emporium.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bowling with Jesus

It's a few weeks past Halloween, but I still find myself disturbed by a very scary, scary movie I caught on TV.

The movie had all the classic elements of a great fright flick: blood, death, and a charismatic cult leader with a voracious appetite for followers and triple-buttered blueberry scones.

The movie is called Jesus Camp.

A documentary that follows the lives of three young children and their brainwashed summer with 300 lbs. Pastor Becky Fischer -- she is, if you'll pardon the malapropism, evil incarne asada.

It takes place in Devil's Lake, North Dakota. Which is somewhat appropriate since Pastor Becky is literally doing Satan's work. Soaking these kids in a pool of intolerance, self-loathing and intellectual bankruptcy. In other words, everything Christ was NOT about.

In the most telling scene of the movie, a bowling excursion at the local lanes, 9-year old Tory is hearkening the Lord to bless her with a good shot.

Tory: Please Jesus, give me a strike. I beseech you Lord, let this ball be an instrument of your ever-lasting love and knock down all the pins.

Sadly, the ball did not comply. It snaked its way through the left side of the rack. Setting up a most difficult spare shot.

Which had me thinking, if Jesus, or Allah, or even G-d did exist, would he have left this poor misguided little girl with the highly unmakeable 4-10 split?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Early Thanks


Once again, I need to apologize for the two previous lengthy posts.
Today will be much shorter, promise.

We are closing in on Thanksgiving. And one of the things I am very thankful for is the fact that we are no longer subjected to this aberration of the English language.

A hundred dollars goes to the reader who can make it through the entire video. (OK, not a real hundred dollars, a metaphorical C-note if you will.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Try the poi

I know how uncool it is to admit listening to Smooth Jazz. But I do. I said it. And I'm not going to apologize to anybody. Particularly to my daughters, who love to mock the station ID.

Girls: Ninety four seven, The Wa-a-a-a-a-v-e.

Years ago, I worked as a bartender/cook/waiter at several jazz clubs in LA and enjoy the hearing the music of people I used to know in a previous lifetime. It was at Hop Singh's and At My Place that I met Kenny Burrell, drank with Ricki Lee Jones and greeted the sunrise after all night parties with Billy and the Beaters.

Right now The Wave is running their Trip A Day contest and offering to send lucky listeners to any destination around the world. Yesterday, Mary from Silverlake drew the winning ticket. And guess where Mary from Silverlake wants to go on this once-in-a-lifetime excursion?

If you said, Norway or Thailand or Madagascar, you'd be wrong.
You see Mary likes the comfort and convenience of strip malls, Burger King and Costco.
Mary wants to go to Maui.
Maui, Hawaii, USA.
That Maui.

I have a low tolerance for stupid people.
It's only surpassed by my intolerance for stupid people who win things.

Way to go Mary.
Bring us back a picture of a pig with an apple in its mouth.




Monday, November 16, 2009

Do you remember your first?

I do.

She was cheap. (I paid $400 for her)
She was experienced. (Clocking more 200,000 miles before I got my hands on her.)
And she could be temperamental. (Throwing mechanical hissy fits at the most inopportune times)

But she was mine. And memories of her came flooding back when I spotted her doppelganger on the streets of Culver City. I particularly remember the day our relationship came to a crashing halt.

It was a summer day. Four buddies and myself were on our way to NYC to partake in the beauty of Brew Burger -- cheeseburger, fries and all the beer you could drink for just $7.95.
To five teenagers from the suburbs (with unsophisticated palates and an unquenchable thirst for Schaefer, the one beer to have when you're having more than one), this was nothing less than Nirvana.

Of course, we never made it past the county line.

Coming down a steep incline on Rt. 59 I applied some light pressure to the brakes. They did not respond. I pushed harder. Still nothing. The '66 Plymouth picked up speed. So did my heart rate. My buddies, who were too busy passing a joint around, seemed unfazed by the events. That is, until I swerved over the double yellow line to avoid a decapitating collision with an 18 wheel truck.

We ran a red light.
Then another.
I yanked on the emergency brake.
I threw the transmission into Park.
Nothing would stop her.

Then Sir Isaac Newton intervened. I made a hard swerving right turn and aimed the car up a hill. I angled toward the curb and brought the car to a stop. I exhaled and looked down at the speedometer and it mercifully read "0".

We pushed the car to the nearest gas station, where an amused grease monkey popped the hood and quickly determined that I had sprung a leak in the brake fluid line. He unscrewed a wing nut and handed me the Master Cylinder, "Take a look, boys. It's bone-fucking dry."

That phrase might conjure up images of a sun baked desert or a Martian landscape.
But to this day it will always be a reminder of that fateful day in Spring Valley.
And it explains why I have never owned or even step foot in another vehicle manufactured by the Chrysler Corporation.



Thursday, November 12, 2009

Reading, writing and algorithmics

I almost didn't get to today's post because I had homework last night. Of course, when I say I had homework, I mean my youngest daughter had homework. Which makes it mine by proxy.

Her English teacher had assigned what could be the most ridiculous assignment I've ever seen. She had to write a complete page and a half story that had incorporated 12 rather difficult vocabulary words. The list included: sentinel, arable, posthumous, ignominious and impromptu, to name a few.

As you can imagine the resulting story was fragmented, forced and barely comprehensible.
It was not interesting in the least.

Which bares a surprising resemblance to this thing called SEO copywriting.

According to wikipedia:

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via "natural" or un-paid ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results as opposed to search engine marketing (SEM) which deals with paid inclusion. Typically, the earlier (or higher) a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search,video search and industry-specific vertical search engines. This gives a web site web presence.

If I understand SEO correctly (and there's a good chance I don't) this rather un-funny post entry could attract the most traffic with the simple inclusion of this meaningless but SEO-optimized statement:

Nude celebrities and President Obama were caught in a orgy at the home of Elizabeth Lambert. Also participating were MILF-y Nancy Pelosi, Nicholas Cage and Major Nasan Hidad. A sex tape involving Joe Jackson, Carrie Prejean and Dede Scozzafazza was found at the premises but was eaten by a lingerie-wearing donkey. Police report the donkey was high on Viagra and steroids.

Tomorrow I'll look at my analytics counter to see if this SEO thigamajig generated traffic.
If it does, look for a lot more posts about Sugarland, Lou Dobbs and amputee blowjobs.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Man with the Plan

It's all too easy to find fault with greedy Wall Streeters, unregulated banks, and unscrupulous insurance companies. But at the heart of our current economic crisis, there is the short-sighted, status-loving American consumer living well beyond their means.

Take this savings-challenged Mercedes driver for instance.

I'm the polar opposite of this Colorado cretin.

I'm all about funding the 401K plan. I don't need a shiny, new black car. Or a 15 megapixel digital camera. Or private golf lessons (OK, I could use private golf lessons.) But the point is I don't live beyond my means. I'll wear a snuggie to save on heating bills. I'll eat off-brand ketchup. I'll take the complimentary shampoo and conditioning bottles they put in hotel rooms.

You see I'm saving for a rainy day. And planning for the future. Because I've seen too many movies. And don't want to end up in some dirty assisted-living retirement home where I have to rely on a cranky, snaggle-toothed nurse with foul cigarette breath to change my diaper.

I want to be in my clean, comfortable house. And have that done by my wife.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What Jew Say?

According to Reuters, anti-semitism in the United States is at historic lows.

Naturally, I'm very happy about that. It's comforting to know I can walk into a Walmart or go to work and not have to hear someone grumble, "Dirty Jew". That wasn't always the case, as I put up with many of these type of indignities at my almost exclusively all Roman Catholic high school.

Reuters drew their conclusions from a poll conducted by the Anti-Defamation League. In that poll, respondents were asked to agree or disagree with 11 index statements. Though I'm not so sure about their methodologies, given that I alone disprove 10 of the the 11 statements.

Statement #1: Jews have too much power in the United States.

Really? When I was Group Creative Director at Y&R, one of the largest ad agencies in the world, I had no power whatsoever. I have even less now.

Statement #2: Jews have too much control and influence on Wall Street.

I wish I had known that before I bought stock in MCI Worldcom, KooKooRoo Chicken and Sun Microsystems.

Statement #3: Jews are so shrewd that others don't have a fair chance at competition.

That might explain why I've been driving the same used car for the past 7 years. Or why I haven't shelled out $5000 to replace my main sewer line which threatens to erupt and spew raw sewage over a large portion of Culver City.

Statement #4: Jews have a lot of irritating faults.

OK, this statement happens to be true. Having lived through countless Seders and Rosh Hashanah dinners, this statement is 100% true. In fact the words "a lot" are a bit of an understatement.

My only qualification is (and this blog has offered ample proof),
"Yes, Jews do have a lot of irritating faults, but then so does everybody else."

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hi-Ho, Hi-ho

I'm pleased as punch that the federal government is beautifying the landscape in Culver City. I love a tree-lined boulevard as much as the next fellow. Especially when the net result is higher property value for my house/retirement fund.

But I'm trying to see the logic behind these large metallic signs.

How many construction workers did it take to dig the posting holes, pour the cement, assemble the framing structure, and erect this monstrosity? That's not even accounting for the transport, the printing, the paperwork needed to approve this vital conduit between the government and the governed?

How much money was wasted telling us our tax dollars are not being wasted?

In the interest of accuracy perhaps the top sign should read:
Putting America's Bureaucrats to Work.




Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Felching No-No

Years ago, I had the greatest job in the world.

I was a permalancer at TBWA Chiat/Day. I basically floated from project to project and put out fires wherever necessary. I had the opportunity to help on several victorious new business pitches (Visa & Sara Lee) and helped engineer a fully integrated campaign for Uncle Ben's Rice.

Free from the curse of ambition, I gleefully ignored any office politics and focused squarely on the writing and the concepting. Though not much of the work I wrote actually got produced, I might have been the happiest person in the 100,000 square foot building.

I was also happy that I met another freelancer. He turned me onto some magical software that enabled me to "share" the music on the internal network and fill my iTunes library with all kinds of great music and great podcasts. Everything from classic Led Zepellin to Ben Webster to the incomparable Ricky Gervais.

Well, yesterday while running my daily 3 miles, I came across this selection that had somehow made it into my files. I found a duplicate of the audio on YouTube and today I share it with you...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Abe's kids

Here, in a nutshell, or a screengrab, is the biggest difference between Muslims and Jews.

(WARNING: BROAD POTENTIALLY OFFENSIVE GENERALIZATIONS TO FOLLOW.)

Let's face it, all parents are disappointed by their children. It goes with the territory.

My father, for example, openly weeped when I dropped out of the accounting and engineering programs at Syracuse University to pursue my dream of being a writer. (On those slow days between freelance gigs, I secretly wish I had listened to his wisdom.)

Nevertheless, when Jewish kids fall short of parental aspirations, Jewish mothers and fathers reach for the oft-played guilt card.

Faced with same dilemma, Muslim parents on the other hand, check the deductibles on the Allstate policy and reach for the keys to the Buick.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Have you ever noticed?


I run the risk of slipping into Andy Rooney mode here, but this latest observation really chafes my butt.

Figuratively, that is.

My photography skills aside, take a look at this roll of toilet paper. It's short. Not on sheets but on width. There was a time, way back in 2007 perhaps, when you'd put a new roll of toilet paper on the spool and you wouldn't see the spool.

But any fool can see they've shaved centimeters off the width of my toilet paper.

I understand companies trying to squeeze every bit of profit they can by tinkering with the packaging. Mayonnaise jars with 15 3/4 ounces of mayonnaise instead of 16. Pickles, with less pickles and more water. Even razor blades, available in the convenient 4-pack priced the same as the now unavailable convenient 5-pack.

But this is Toilet Paper. A product we've been trained to use since stepping out of diapers. We have a lifelong familiarity with its shape. Its texture. Its quilted 2 ply comfort. You can't start changing that and not give us any warning. It alters our rhythm. Interrupts our routine. It throws a monkey wrench into what was once a well-oiled operation.

It creates the potential for an Exxon Valdez-like accident in the bathroom.

And that's messed up.
Literally, that is.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Karen Salkin, have you no shame?

Ms. Salkin is the restaurant reviewer for the Culver City News, a rag of a paper that shows up in my driveway. Often unwanted.

Ms. Salkin has apparently never met a meal she doesn't like.

Her critiques never contain any criticism. She fawns over the simplest of dishes. Sugarcoats everything. And plugs away like a reincarnated Billy Mays. She's not so much a restaurant reviewer as she is a gastric gusher.

If I didn't know better I'd say she does it all for the free lunches.

This week for instance she ventured down to the Del Amo Mall (not exactly in the vicinity of Culver City) to sample the quote, food, unquote, at Hometown Buffet.

Sadly, I've eaten at this establishment.
Years ago, while working for an ad agency with one foot already in the grave, we pitched any business that moved, including this sad excuse for a public eatery. We didn't get the account but a planner and an art director got food poisoning.

The food was inedible. But as the name would indicate, the portions were limitless.

As faithful readers of this blog know, the trip was not a total loss. Because the experience inspired my favorite poopenism,
"Excuse me, I'm going to dump all my shares of Hometown Buffet."




Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hi Ku

Many of you know I've written a book, Tuesdays with Mantu, My Adventures with a Nigerian Con Artist. But did you know that a year after publishing that I was asked to write another book that coincidently featured an African-American man on the cover?

It was a brand book for Uncle Ben's Rice. A short-handed guide to the brand, the story of Ben and more than anyone could ever want to know about rice.

Towards the end of the book I wrote some Haiku about the Water Buffalo -- the animal that makes it possible for us to enjoy Oryza Sativa.

I don't know if it's legible, but the first Haiku (including a sneaky Simpsons reference) reads:

Mighty, gentle beast
Command the land to yield rice
You are Mister Plow

I'm not particularly big on poetry. With the exception of Bukowski's drunken rants, I find most of it incomprehensible. Maybe that's why I like Haiku. It's short, to the point and non-linear in a liberating way.

Plus Haiku manages to release the author from all literary criticism. Admit it, you read the poem with your fingers and counted out the syllables...5...7...5. In fact, the proper syllable count seems to be the only legitimate criteria for judging Haiku.

And that's the way I like my attempts at poetry, with the bar for achievement set really, really low.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bears Gone Wild


The Winter Olympics are approaching and I am looking forward to the giant slalom, the ski jumping and even the freestyle snowboarding.

The ice skating? Not so much.

My wife and the girls will hijack the remote control and force me to sit through double axles and triple lutzs, but I will not enjoy it.

It's not because I can't skate, I can. For a man of my considerable girth, I actually move quite well on skates, assuming I'm in a rink and not on a lake. And the ice has been freshly-Zambonied. (can Zamboni be used as a verb?)

But after a few laps or 2 minutes of organ music (whichever comes first) I'm ready to return to terra-firma and let the flow of blood resume in my ankles.


The astute observer will also note that the ice skates in question were pink. Which no self- respecting bear, male or female, gay or straight, should be forced to wear.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Why I won't twitter


I've watched the twitter phenomena for several months now. And I've been tempted to jump on the tweetwagon, if only to give potential employers the impression that I am "up" on current technology.

But, if I were to twitter, I'd want to do something different. As deft as I might consider myself with the written word, there's no way I could make meaningful hay out of my daily breakfast choices or my latest Scrabble triumphs.

No, if I were to twitter, it would have to be something unique, something personal, something that was true to my heart. As well as my small intestine.

I had an epiphany.

But it did not last long. I went online and discovered that somebody had already beaten me to the pungent punch...



But, it turns out that even the genius who carved out his particular niche in the methane-sphere has been trumped by a man who has married the magic of algorithms with the latest advances in office furniture:


And frankly, there's no topping that.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Jay Chiat would be proud

One of the things I love about Halloween is the celebration of the macabre. My youngest daughter Abby seems to share that inclination.

After viewing some of the contestants on extremepumpkins.com, Abby was set on re-enacting the drowning pumpkins display she had seen online.

We carved faces that approximated the terror of drowning, then placed the two pumpkins in old aquarium that at one time was the home to our pet turtle named Candy. Candy met her demise when our dog mistook her for a chew toy. I'll spare you the bloody details.

After submerging the pumpkins in 30 gallons of water and weighing them down with some leftover bricks, Abby wanted to give her own personal signature to the piece. And added the hand-crafted plea for "HELP."

Then in true "good enough is not enough spirit" had an idea that trumped her original concept.
Making it darker. More subtle. And deliciously twisted.

















Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Get Rich Rich

Got an e-mail yesterday from Jonathon Farber, head of New Ventures at Google Labs.

Seems someone up there caught wind of my blog and thought it would be perfect in a new synthesized communications platform alternative. I have no idea what that means, but to make an extremely exciting story short, he offered me an absurd amount of money for exclusive rights to the next three years of roundseventeen.com

Can you believe that?

Yeah, neither can I.

Because it didn’t really happen.

And frankly, it’s all your fault. You people, who are always e-mailing me and calling me to tell me how much you love reading roundseventeen, have done nothing to publicize it.

And that makes me mad. But being mad is not going to get your off your butts. Money however, might.

So here’s the deal. I’m culling through my list of 571 Facebook friends to find 500 lucky people. (Let’s face it there are 71 of you I don’t even know or even want to know. And you know who you are.)

The fortunate 500 who are chosen will become instant stakeholders in roundseventeen.com. Collectively, you will own 10% of the enterprise. Right now that enterprise is worth nothing. And 10% of nothing is nothing. But, let's say I did get a call from Google and let's say I did hit the digital jackpot, well guess what, so would you. Think of it as a no-cost Ponzi scheme that unlike Madoff's, pays off.

All you've got to do is start spreading the roundseventeen word.

BTW, I just installed special analytic software that enables me to see who has been linking entries and who has not. So at the end of the year, when it comes time for X-mas bonuses, well, let’s just say I know who’s been naughty and who’s been nice.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Serenity Now

Hell is not a destination.

Hell is a journey.

More specifically, the 53-mile journey from Culver City to Irvine, California on the 405 freeway.

I know this because I did that commute for two and a half years of my life.

If only I had the benefit of Traffic Calming Info.
(I might have re-phrased it for syntax purposes and called it Calming Traffic Info.)

Nevertheless, had this resource been available to me, perhaps I would not have needed to chow down on little blue Xanax pills like they were Tic-Tacs.

When life gets frustrating or when I'm leaving the parking lot at Dodger Stadium, I picture myself on one of those long, hellish slogs through Fountain Valley, Costa Mesa and the always-thick South Bay Curve.

And I take long deep breaths reminding myself that at one time I was just "one Sig Alert" away from becoming the next Ted Bundy.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Take me to North Haverbrook


Today, my advertising adventure takes me north to the city of Seattle. In the background you can see the Space Needle. In the foreground, you can see something even more amazing --- A Monorail.

Promised to us at the 1964 World's Fair, few cities have climbed aboard and gotten on the fast track to the future.

There's Seattle.
And of course there's Springfield.


You gotta love the boundless enthusiasm of the Northwest.
They can even put a positive spin on street side construction
outhouse...


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Roll the dice

It's a sad rainy day, the kind of day that reminds me of Bukowski and my favorite scene in Factotum:



This one is dedicated to my friend Jeff Rothberg,
who rode life straight to perfect laughter.






Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"Get off my lawn"

I haven't uttered that phrase. Yet. But judging from my ever-increasing crotchetiness and my blossoming prostate, I have no doubt those words will one day leave my mouth.

In the meanwhile, I've been hearing this one song on the radio quite a bit. It's called "Sinner".
It's a hip-hop/pop little ditty that gets way too much airplay on Los Angeles radio (which hasn't been good since the demise of KMET.) It's "sung" by wannabe thug who calls himself Big B.

In the very first stanza, he writes:

First of all,
I'd like to thank you for accepting this collect call
And tell you what you're about to hear is sincere
It's not the drugs or the alcohol
I know you said that it had to end
I don't expect you to bail me out again
But right now girl, you're my only friend
It's true, I did you wrong, for way too long
But that's the past so lets move on
It's a new song
So let it play on and on, from dusk to dawn
Till the neighbors complain or the cops come
[oh the life of a sinner]
In the California sun

I know in the realm of hip hop music there's a helluva lot worse than this. But I have a little news flash for you Mr. Big B.

If you're in your backyard and you're playing music in the wee hours of the night so loud that the neighbors have to complain or the cops have to show up, you're not a Sinner.

You're a Douchebag!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mawww chawder, please


Accents, excessive cigarette smoking, and fanatic sports enthusiasm aside,
I love Boston.

Particularly the southern suburbs along the coast, or as I'm told it's called, "The Irish Riviera."

A lot of salty, down-to-earth people who know how to tell a good story and keep a bar tab going.

I also love New England for the spectacular photo opportunities.
None of that fall foliage crap for me.
Oh no, I prefer a good roadside non-sequitur:



Monday, October 12, 2009

Walk like an Egyptian

I haven't been there, but I have to assume to life in Egypt is pretty, pretty damned good.

The economy must be soaring.
Literacy must be at all time high.
Health care must be available to all.
And the ancient streets of Cairo must be paved in 24 karat gold.

Thus freeing up Egyptian legislators to tackle the more pressing issues of the day.

Last week, for instance they slaughtered the entire pig population and eliminated the threat of any Egyptian catching the deadly swine flu.

This week, on-the-ball politicians are turning their attention to Fake Virginity Kits being manufactured in China. Clever, sexually-active Egyptian women can now consummate their marriage, knowing that with a little dim-lighting and a pseudo-hymen in place, they can fool their husbands with all the nuanced, subtlety of a Mossad False Flag operation.

Kudos Egypt, you are blazing new trails into the modernity of the 12 century.



Thursday, October 8, 2009

Wet Meat

It took a very long time but I finally got around to eating at Philippes.

Philippes, for those who don't know, is a Los Angeles landmark. Their French Dip Roast Beef Sandwiches are legendary, from the tip of San Pedro to the double-wide trailers of Sun Valley.

The food was good. The price was better. I snagged a decent Lamb sandwich for only $6.75.

I might even go back to Philippes if it weren't for the awful location.

You see, the far eastern and northern sector of downtown Los Angeles has a distinctive urine-y smell. That's something you don't want to think about when you're eating wet meat on wet bread.

On a positive note however, I can scratch off another activity that makes living in Los Angeles so iconic.

Next up: Learning to surf and going all Goofy Foot.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Let me whip this out

I love my DIRECTV. And I'm not just saying that because I worked for them quite a bit this year. Their quality and service is significantly better than my old provider, Comcast.

But, and this is a big one, I do miss public access TV.

I miss Francine Dancer.
I miss Colin's Sleazy Friends.
Most of all, I miss the Black Hebrews. I couldn't find video of our local ebony rebbes, but I did track down these brothers in Baltimore...


I love these guys.
If only there were more cross-culture pollination.


Who's the black private dentist
That's a crown machine to all the chicks?
(Shmuelie)
You're damn right

Who is the man
That would risk his practice for his brother man?
(Shmuelie)
Can ya dig it?

Who's the cat that won't cop out
When there's novocaine all about
(Shmuelie)
Right on

You see this cat Shmuelie is a bad mother--
(Shut your mouth)
But I'm talkin' about Shmuelie
(Then we can dig it)

He's a complicated orthodontist
But no one understands him but his malpractice lawyer
(Shmuelie Fein)