Thursday, October 31, 2013

Not again!

Today is Halloween.

Tonight, hundreds of costumed little kids and their over-protective parents will come knocking on my door (possibly interrupting my enjoyment of the World Series) holding out their little hands and begging for free candy.

It's an obnoxious little tradition, but it's one I happily endure, because the real hell is just around the corner.

Tomorrow it begins. The official kick-off of the Christmas season. Just writing those words makes me cringe. Why?

Because I hate Christmas.

Not the most original thought, I'll admit. Particularly coming from a Godless Jew. But nevertheless, it's one deserving of being said out loud. God, I hate Christmas.

I hate the music and the X-mas carols, most of which were ironically written by heathen Jews like myself.

I hate the decorations, including the mistletoe, which is poisonous, the wasteful lights that just make us more energy dependent on Saudi Arabia, and the moving lawn reindeer that scare the shit out of my dog.

I hate the Fox News indefensible defense of Christmas and their yearly charge that there is an open war on Christmas. There isn't an open war on Christmas.

But there ought to be.

Last year, my family and I were in London at the height of the Christmas season. There, at least, the holiday is treated with some modicum of respect.

We didn't see TV commercials of cars topped with big red bows.

We didn't see Merry Christmazzzzz Sales at the local mattress sales.

We didn't see the birth of the Almighty Lord, the Host of Hosts, The Omnipotent Master of Time and Space, reduced to a marketing ploy to sell more bath towels at the local Pic N' Save.

If there is one saving grace to the holidays, it's the Nativity scenes. I love a good a Nativity scene. Here's one I snapped near Trafalgar Square:

What I like most in this, and others, is how calm they depict Mary, Joseph, and their minions during the birthing event. I can tell you from experience, because I've been around enough Jews to know, that calm reservedness is nowhere to be found. Much less, when one human being or super human being is coming out of another.

And of course, what's a good nativity scene without a good Caganer. I've stated it before and I'll state it again, I love The Caganer.

If you don't know what it is, consider this my early X-mas gift.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Bolshevization of Advertising

I make no secret of my disdain for the current way of doing business.

I'm not a fan of open plan seating.
Burgeoning corporate hierarchies.
Or the absurd fascination with digital marketing, to the exclusion of tried-and-true media like TV, print or outdoor boards.

But my mama didn't raise no fool.

And if I'm going to continue to put expensive organic food from Gelson's supermarket on my dinner table or send my daughter's to ridiculously overpriced universities, I've got to adopt, adapt and survive.

The latest trend in adland seems to have been ripped straight from the pages of Karl Marx. It's a new brand of collectivism.

The thinking goes like this: if having one art director and copywriter is good for solving a problem, then  having 50 art directors and 50 copywriters can only mean solving the problem 50 times faster and 50 times better.

It's similar to my approach with cough medicine. If one teaspoon is good, then 4 tablespoons of the codeine-enhanced nectar can only be better. Most the time however it results with me falling head first into my bowl of whole wheat rigatoni.

But here's the the problem with working this way -- it doesn't work.

Don't take it from me, take from this odd computer-generated voice with the ironic Russian accent:

While I'm more comfortable working alone or with an art director, particularly one who can come up with the funny, I'm more than happy to participate in this Soviet-style search for solutions. Particularly if someone is paying me a decent capitalist-style day rate.

However, I can't but feel sorry for the today's young creative trying to make a name for himself or herself. Because if you can't take ownership of the work you can't claim ownership of the rewards.

Bolshevism didn't work for Mother Russia, I doubt it's going to enjoy much success in the halls of Mother, Crispin Porter or BBDO.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

50 Shades of Schadenfreud

Eight months from now, on a warm night cooled by a soothing Mediterranean breeze,  a creative team from Weiden and Kennedy's London office will hear their names announced in an auditorium populated by hipsters, fashionistas and the advertising world's creative cream of the crop.

They'll put down their flutes of locally-fermented champagne and stroll to the stage where they will receive a golden Cannes Lion that, at a later date, will be cashed in for a better office, a better title and a better seat at the 2015 Cannes Awards Show.

They will forever be recognized, at least in our small domain, as the hotshot team that did that cool Honda spot with the optical illusions.

And that glory will have a halo effect.

Because the smart London-based executives at The Honda Motor Company, the client, will also be hailed as creative visionaries who were willing to take a chance.

They will order duplicate golden Lions and proudly peacock them on the shelves of their cubicle. And they'll take that Lion with them, when they get promoted and moved out of the cubicle farm and into a prized window office of their own.

They will get more money.
And a better title.
And soon they will be at cocktail parties proudly introducing themselves as the "guys who did that Honda spot with the optical illusions."

Where's this all going you may ask.

Well, about three years ago my art director partner and I pitched the exact same idea.

 The same Aames Room. The same optical illusion. It was even for the same company, Honda.

The difference?
We pitched it here in America and could not sell the idea.
They pitched it in Europe and did.

Naturally, this leaves me with a little pit in my stomach. But I'm no stranger to envy, cynicism or professional bitterness. I've learned to embrace that negative energy. Let's face it, people given to excessive sanguinity don't write close to 1000 war stories for a daily blog.

But all is not lost.

I take great solace in the fact that sometime in the near future, there will be a memo or even an article published in the global Honda newsletter. And the brave executives at the London office will be trotted out as the type of risk-taking executives that will "go far in this company."

And that memo or article will be read by an American counterpart who will be thinking to him or herself, "Damnit, some team presented that same idea to me three years ago and I didn't buy it. Shitsticks!!!"

And for me, that's worth all the gold in the south of France.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Rich Siegel is a Douchebag

I'm just like you.

I've Googled my own name, Rich Siegel.

And just like you, what I've found isn't always pleasing.

For one thing my name is not as singular as I'd like. For another, one of the bozos sporting my moniker is a Grade A, self-hating Jew who happened to grow up in Spring Valley, NY. That's where I spent a great deal of my youth working at the local Jack in the Box.

His name is Rich Siegel and he's a self described social activist. He's also a "musician". I've taken the liberty of embedding one of his most popular hits:

Not exactly a toe tapper, but I don't think that's what he was going after.

I'd be lying if I said I did know what was going on in the mind of Rich Siegel. I didn't go that far down the rabbit hole.

Frankly, I've got better things to do in my life than to obsess with the misguided opinions and twisted half truths as stated by some clown named Rich Siegel.

I think we all do.

Rich Siegel has committed an enormous amount of time and energy to paint the State of Israel as a military aggressor and as an apartheid nation of war criminals. As if to suggest that the problems of the Middle East could be solved if Israel would just act rationally and sit down with their peace-loving Arab and Islamic neighbors.

I think you can see where I am going with this.

I will concede that Israel has, on occasion, committed some defenseless acts, and what nation entangled in 5 wars hasn't? However it should be noted that by and large those "acts" have been in the service of self-defense. Rich Siegel --the other one-- conveniently ignores the brutal, murderous and cowardly behavior of the neighboring countries that have sworn "to push the Jews into the sea."

One need look no further than today's headlines.

Isn't that lovely?

In the last three years, the Syrian regime of Bashir al Assad has butchered more than 100,000 innocent Syrians. That includes tens of thousands of children. And that death count is way higher than the number of soldiers lost in ALL of the Middle Eastern wars between Israel and the surrounding countries.

Why doesn't Rich Siegel tickle the ivories about that?

In nearby Egypt, thousands have died in two bloody revolutions and left the country split, teetering on a Somalia-like state of failure. Women were literally rounded up and subjected to virginity tests.

That's got to be good for a few songs, right Rich Siegel?

The fact is you could throw a rock anywhere from Northern Africa to the eastern-most tip of Malaysia and hit a bulls-eye of brutality, hate and Neanderthal inhumanity. Just make sure you save enough stones left over to punish the adulterers, homosexuals and blasphemers.

With regards to this conflict, the moral high ground has been ceded a long time ago. It was given up by the Arabs and the independent Palestinian state they were offered and rejected in 1948.

So spare us the ill-informed indignation, Rich Siegel. One day I hope you get around to Googling your name and finding this blog. Cause I'd like nothing more to say to your face...

"Rich Siegel, you're a douchebag."

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hello Jessica

I just received a Facebook Friend Request from Jessica Nevills.

I don't know Jessica, though apparently we have some mutual friends.

I'm trying to figure out how she came across my profile. More specifically, why she would want to be my Facebook friend.

Perhaps she stumbled onto Round Seventeen and took a shine to my business insights or my not so unbiased ramblings regarding the Middle East.

Maybe she's a fan of political satire and enjoys my occasional taunting of Kim Jung Un at

Or maybe, she just has a Daddy fetish and digs bald, fat Jewish guys who like to go swimming.

Yeah, that's what my wife thinks.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Mad Stacks, Yo

Want to make a ton of cash and be the darling of the corporate world?

Write a book or an article about why employees don't want anything tangible, money for instance, and would prefer soft compensation, like greater freedom or room for personal "growth".

Last week, Inc. magazine published a piece by corporate apologist Geoffrey James entitled "10 Things Employees Want More Than A Raise." I'm sure the article was clipped by HR professionals throughout the land.

Mr. James is a standing member of the Society of American Business Editors and has had work published in the NY Times, so I don't want to be disrespectful.

But, FUCK YOU, Geoffrey James.

You could have used a good editor before Inc. ran your recent article.

Because, let's be honest, there aren't 10 Things Employees Want More Than A Raise.
There aren't 5 Things.
There aren't 3 Things.
In fact, and I'm speaking anecdotally and on behalf of ALL labor, there isn't ANY thing employees want more than a raise.

What he, and corporate anthropologists of his ilk, fail to understand is we go to work to get paid.

We don't put on starched clothing, sit on the 405 and give up 10 hours of our daily 24 because we want to. We do it for the money. So that we have food, clothing and shelter. And with a little luck, enough entertainment to make us forget all the mismanagement, office politics and corporate bullshit we're forced to endure.

We're not interested in company pride. Or free bagels. Or false camaraderie or respect. We want money. And we want more of it.

How do I know this is true?
Put the wingtip shoe on the other foot.

Imagine a C-suite executive coming up for his or her performance review and being told, "We're not giving out raises or bonuses this year. But we can offer you a wide selection of morale-building T-shirts. Or, if you'd like to take some adult education classes at the Learning Annex, the company will be happy to pay for it."

Here's the other thing. Companies and HR people who buy into this line of horse hockey aren't doing themselves any favors.

You see, in the real world, the world of free market practices, companies that pay well, attract better talent. Better talent makes a better product or delivers a better service. Companies that put out better quality, make better profits.

I may not have an MBA or even a sophisticated knowledge of management, but you show me a company that doesn't give out raises and I'll show you a labor pool of disgruntled employees feverishly working the linkedin connections.

And going home with as many post-it notes and moleskin notepads they can stuff in their backpacks.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Check out my balls

Writers are odd people.

At least the ones I know, and I know quite a few.

Like athletes, writers have little ticks, habits and routines, that must be accommodated before they can get down to the business of turning thoughts into words.

Some smoke.
Some drink.
My buddy Matty, always has to have two number two pencils in his hands. He twirls them. He taps them. He dexterously winds them through his fingers like some cheap Las Vegas magician.

And to the probable dismay of his art director partner,  he'll never write without them.

For me, it's baseballs.
I like to have one nearby.
And in between sentences, paragraphs or pages, I'll pound one from hand to hand. Or put some topspin on one as I toss it overhead. Hopefully not hitting the ceiling fan in my office.

It's not like I'm a crazed baseball fan. I'm not. Though I thoroughly enjoy this time of the year and devour baseball strategy as if it were a bottomless bowl of fried calamari.

I even like listening to Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.

But it's more about the feel of a baseball in my hand. The leather. The embossed stitching. Even the aroma of a baseball is pleasing.

At one time, the ball on the left (my favorite) was brand new. And it was signed. By Tommy LaSorda and Erik Karros.

I met both of them on one of the first TV commercials I ever wrote.

It was for the Nissan dealers and the premise was very simple.

Eric Karros was a rookie. He was the lowest paid baseball player in the National League, making a measly $109,000/year. He wasn't getting the kind of free agent money his teammates were, so every penny counted. That's why he was so excited that the Nissan Dealers were having a clearance sale.

It gave him a legit reason to pound the sheet metal, talk about deals and in a not-so-subtle way make fun of big leaguers who were making millions of dollars for chewing tobacco and playing a little boy's game.

For the life of me I can't remember why Tommy LaSorda was on the set. He was media savvy, so he could have been there to coach young Eric through the experience.

Or, and this is probably closer to the truth, he might have been there for the craft service food.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Meet the Larpers

As mentioned in recent posts, last weekend I took my two daughters on the Great Northwest College Tour.

Or, as I like to refer to it, The Let's-Find-An-Institution-That-Will-Drain-Daddy's-Bank-Account-And-Put-Him-In-A-Dirty-Nursing-Home Tour.

We started in Spokane (vehemently pronounced Spo-can) and saw Gonzaga University. It's a Jesuit University. We knew that going in, but within 5 minutes my daughter --who already attends Catholic High School -- said she had seen enough crucifixes.

For this lifetime. And the imaginary one that follows.

I don't blame her. Religion goes with college like chocolate goes with plumbing glue.

From there, we traversed the state of Washington, which reminded me of upstate NY and is truly beautiful and came down the back side of the Cascade Mountains into Seattle.

My daughters loved Seattle. And my youngest described it perfectly when she said, "It's just like San Francisco. But with wetter homeless people."

Of course, in all my logistical genius, we scheduled our tour of the University of Washington, UDub, the same day they were hosting a nationally televised football game against Oregon, their arch rivals. The campus was awash in drunken fans, from both universities.

We arrived in time to take the official UDub tour with other visiting parents hoping to achieve instant poverty.

In the very casual meet-and-greet that preceded the tour, we were treated to an hour long question and answer period with a campus rep. That's when the group had the opportunity to meet a mom from Sacramento and her precocious teenage daughter. I'm sorry, honors program teenage daughter.

You see, this inquisitive little girl asked the campus representative a gaggle of questions. And she was quite intent to let everyone around her know she was an honors program student.

"If you're in the honors program, is there a different dormitory you can stay in?"

"If you're in the honors program, do you get special meal plans?"

"If you're in the honors program, is there a reflective yellow vest you can wear around campus to let everyone know of your superior IQ?"

Yeah, we get it Einstein, you're a gifted scholar. But if you were really smart you'd keep your mouth shut so that some wise ass blogger wouldn't go home and publicly shame you before millions of people. OK, maybe not millions, but you get the point.

Our last stop on the tour was the aforementioned University of Oregon. The school is in Eugene, where by chance, a friend from Suffern High School happens to reside. Because our names are so close alphabetically, we used to sit next to each other in many, many classes.

We met for coffee and caught up on our vastly different lives. It was very casual and 180 degrees from the artifice of a staged high school reunion. We both remarked how fast life goes and how hard it was to believe that we were already 44 years old.

Later, we walked around the very sleepy campus and came across the LARPERS (pictured above), who my daughter explained are Live Action Role Players. I was astounded that students would literally spend their free time, dressing up as medieval characters and donning nerf swords and shields.

I thought college was about getting drunk, stoned or laid. Ideally, any combination of the three.

We still have one more trip planned. We're going Back East to check out Boston University, Boston College, Georgetown and my alma mater, Syracuse.

Before you know it, my daughter will be writing thesis papers on the Rise of 18th Century Nihilism and The Birth of the Dada Movement. And I'll be writing 5 digit tuition checks.

Hello dirty nursing home, I can already feel your soiled linens and taste your pureed peas.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Year of the Cock

I have copped to this before.
And I will cop to it again.
I am easily amused.

It doesn't take much to get me cackling and laughing up a storm that has others in the immediate vicinity wondering, "what the hell is going on over there?"

Of course, I'm not sure this was always the case. Particularly when I was a boss and had to judge creative work submitted by younger teams. Then, the laughs were few and far between.

But those days are long gone.

However, lately I've been teamed up with my old partner John Shirley and we are working near our old stomping grounds. To commemorate that, we stopped in for lunch at a local Szechuan restaurant. I would tell you the name of the restaurant but I'm not even sure the place has one. It simply says Szechuan Restaurant on the awning.

And that's always been good enough for us.

The Szechuan Restaurant's marketing prowess is only superseded by their not-so-high standards of hygiene. For years, the place sported a huge C from the Dept. of Health.

That never stopped us. Not because the food is that great. It's not. But, to borrow from from Woody Allen, the portions are enormous.

And though it has been many years, the Kung Pao Chicken hasn't changed a bit. But the placemats at Szechuan Restaurants have.

Naturally, as I have not matured past the age of 14, I was inclined to take a picture (see above). You know, between the chortling and guffawing.

But, as the restaurant is surrounded on all sides by ad agencies and their incumbent sophomoric staff, I'm probably not the only one to have whipped out the iPhone to snap a picture of the table cock.

I'm sure the art directors framed it better.
And paid more attention to the lighting.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mmmmm, doughnuts

If you're a Simpson's aficionado, as I am, you know this is a picture of Jebidiah Springfield, founding father of Springfield, ??.

There was a time in my life when I knew the storyline to every Simpson's episode. It is such a monumental achievement and will go down as one of the top 5 shows ever put on television.

But for me it was more than just a laugh riot.

It was graduate school. I learned so many new tricks and techniques in storytelling. And of course, when I say "learned", I mean I stole liberally.

You can imagine how excited I was last week, when, on the Great Northwest College Tour of 2013 -- more on this adventure later -- I discovered the original statue that inspired the great Jebidiah.

We found him on the campus of the University of Oregon. Not far from Portland, where Simpson's creator Matt Groehning grew up.

Later that day, we came across more Simpson's inspirational points of interest, including streets in downtown Portland named Flanders and Quimby. Not to mention Montgomery Park and Burnside Street.

My daughters, naturally, were bored with my Simpson's fascination, so I took them to world famous Voodoo Doughnuts. That seemed to do the trick. And no wonder either.

Because as Homer is fond of saying, "doughnuts, is there anything they can't do?"

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Winning Sucks

Last week I received some very depressing news.

As some of you might know I have been engaged in a mortal combat with the Nordictrack Fitness Equipment Company. I purchased one of their stationary bikes months ago and the thing literally had a meltdown.

It couldn't be fixed. And wouldn't be fixed. As I ran into a complete stonewalling by the customer service representatives in their Logan, Utah headquarters.

So, I did what any angry white man with not enough problems would do, I filed the papers for an appearance in Small Claims Court.

I wrote about this recently and received many emails from roundseventeen readers urging me to 'fight the good fight."

Suffice to say, I was ready to tilt that windmill and slay the Nordictrack monster with my dazzling rhetoric before an awestruck crowd of 23 people in an Inglewood courtroom.

Sadly, that is not going to happen.

Yesterday, I found out that the smiley Mormons in Utah shit their khaki pants and caved in.

A credit, in the amount of $870.91, covering the cost of the machine plus shipping and handling, had been issued to my account.

No one, and I mean no one, is more disappointed.

It's as if I had been sucker punched in the gut by Iron Mike Tyson. The wind has been knocked out of me. And even my new fortified cough medicine Hydrocod, now with 47% more codeine, fails to produce any euphoria.

I'm a beaten man.
Even though I won and prevailed in the grand scheme of fair trade.
I so wanted my day in court.

Never has being on the receiving end of $900 felt so crappy.

But there is a glimmer of hope.

We just purchased a new toaster oven with an infra-red broiler. And frankly it's taking a little too long for the cheese to melt on my tuna sandwich. The folks at Black & Decker better pray this thing rights itself.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Cradle of Civilization

When someone says Egypt a lot of things come to mind.

For instance, Egypt is unstable.

They've had three regime changes in the past 5 years. There was Mubarak. And then, Morsi. And now some general named, Sisi -- which may not be the best moniker in a culture of homophobic religious zealots. If there's a new election, there will be another new head guy. They're like the San Diego Chargers of the Middle East.

When I think of Egypt, I also think of state-sanctioned misogyny. This is where the army literally rounded up women to conduct virginity checks. And it's where 60 Minutes reporter Lara Logan was sexually assaulted. Egypt is Sunni, which is marginally better than Shia (Iran), and they haven't gone full burka, yet. But they are sexually repressed.

And still, or perhaps why, batshit crazy.

Let's not forget that earlier this year, the Egyptians arrested a stork and accused the bird of being a spy for the very crafty Mossad, the Israeli intelligence department.

The point is, when you say Egypt you don't think of funny. Unless you know my buddy and stand up comic Tamar Kattan, who is extremely funny. He's also pretty smart. And rational. So he is definitely the exception to the rule.

But broad generalizations and preconceived notions are like Nordictrack fitness machines, they have no place in this world.

Years ago I came across this advertising campaign for Panda cheese. Like the pyramids, it was made in Egypt. For sheer brilliance, great acting and superb timing, the campaign too should be considered one of the Great Wonders of the World.

Here are 5 of the spots strung together:

"Mayd dela heshla."

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I worked on the Nike Campaign

I am asked on many occasion, how I stay so busy? 

How do I get jobs or even find out about jobs when everybody else seems to be sitting by the phone or playing miniature golf at the local Dave & Busters? 

How do I turn the Freelance Gravy Train from a Local into a non-stop Express of fat checks and cherry assignments? 

What's the Get Rich Quick Secret, Rich?

There is no secret. 

I make it my job to know which agencies are busy, where there is turmoil, and who to pounce on for the next gig. It's simple elbow grease. I plant my elbows on my Herman Miller chair and my mouse on linked and get down to the business of knowing the business. 

You know, when I'm not picking fights with Jillian Michaels or harpooning Dear Leader Kim Jung Un.

Last week while sniffing around linkedin, I decided to research some of the characters I had seen on AMC's The Pitch, a show about minor league agencies competing for advertising assignments from Fortune 5000 companies.

One of the advertising wunderkind had written on his resume that "he had worked on the Nike campaign." 

This wasn't a throwaway tucked at the bottom of the page, as in 'other achievements.' This was at the top. In big bold helvetica. And it was unadorned with any further explanation. Leaving the uninformed reader to believe that "Just Do It" was something he had just done.

Of course this rascal is only 26 years old. Which means he must have sprung the campaign on Phil Knight while he was still in junior high school. Maybe between Chemistry class and Early 19th Century History.

The truth is he probably worked on a banner ad for Nike Girls Volleyball shoes. And he might have won a Northern Nebraska Silver Addy for Best Work in the 68 X 143 format. 

And so yes, he did work on the Nike Campaign. 

Yeah, and years ago I walked on the moon and unraveled the mysteries of space, because I had a Jonny Quest secret decoder ring.

I guess that's the beauty of getting older. I don't have to spend precious time inflating my resume. In fact, as Round Seventeen often demonstrates, I have a lot more fun deflating it.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Put me in Coach

I was not an athlete in high school.

Didn't play football, baseball, basketball or hockey. I had the build for wrestling and once took the football team's middle linebacker, Brian Schufiester to the mat. Sadly, that was the height of my teenage athletic prowess.

In retrospect I could have gone out for the school water polo team, and succeeded, as I've always moved differently in the water.

But my father never supported those type of endeavors. He preferred that I work, which I did.

My father also had an aversion to authoritarian high school coaches. He didn't want to be around them. And now with two daughters in high school, I understand why.

My youngest, Abby, has been playing volleyball for the past 10 years. On school teams. In clubs. Anywhere there's a volleyball net. She is very good at it. Not scholarship good, but there's only so much you can expect from a volleyball player who stands 5'2".

If only her mother was 5'10" with long, shapely, statuesque legs...

(Daydreaming pause for effect)

Where was I?

The point is, my daughter is a good volleyball player. And she works hard at it. Like her father, she has the determination of a pit bull. And will not be deterred by any obstacles. Right now her biggest obstacle isn't her serve, or her set up shot, or even her dinosaur dig.

It's her coach.

Last week at a tournament, he said to my daughter, "we want to win these two games, so I can't put you in."

She came home from the tournament in tears.  When she told us what had transpired, you can imagine how I reacted. My wife had to do all she could before I jumped in the car and hightailed it to the Catholic High School to punch this guy in the rectory.

Cooler heads prevailed. And my wife believes she can turn this into a good learning experience for Abby.

I'd like to turn this into a learning experience for this coach.

If I had my way, I'd have a few choice degrading words of my own for this under-achieving Phys Ed teacher.

"Coach, if you knew anything about winning, you'd be preparing our young women to bring home a gold medal at the Brazil Olympic Games and not sitting on a yellow school bus on the way to Pacoima for a JV game against Our Lady of the Holy Burrito."

Monday, October 7, 2013

You're out of order

If you were reading Round Seventeen last week, you already know I am in full battle mode with Nordictrack -- a subsidiary of Icon Health & Fitness.

If you've read Round Seventeen at all during the last 5 years, you also know that I have commitment issues.

If I'm in for a dime, I'm in for a dollar.

I don't do half-assed.

I don't live in a grey, nuanced world.
I'm a binary thinker.
It's either black or white.
Right or wrong.
Win or lose.

This is particularly true in the world of commerce. If I hand over my hard-earned money for your product or service, it had better live up to the promises made and the value conveyed. And if it doesn't, we're going to have words about it.

This is the boat I find myself in with Nordictrack.

And apparently I'm not the first. I've done my homework and found there have been many, many, many complaints against this company. The most common being their unwillingness to stand behind their products. I've also come to learn all their products are made in Yinchuan, China, near the border with Mongolia, and probably not worth standing behind.

Most annoying however is the way Nordictrack attempts to sweat out unhappy customers.

Their khaki-pants wearing customer service representatives, in Logan, Utah, the heart of Mormon country, have been instructed to put angry callers on hold. They switch you from department to department. And they do it all with such saccharine sweetness to make the medicine go down easier. But no one gets off the phone satisfied.


This isn't my speculation, this comes from a memo written by a former Icon employee.

In any case, it's on.

Last week I visited the Jillian Michaels Facebook Page ( she's the Nordictrack spokesperson) and let her fans know about the company she's associated with. I even got a personal response from Jillian, who must be wondering, who the hell is this bulldog and why is he all over my case?

In addition to Jillian, Nordictrack has many other pressure points. And I'm more than willing to start pressing all of them.

I Fedex'ed a two page letter to the Nordictrack CEO. I contacted Joel Grover, the consumer reporter at the local NBC affiliate. And I even got in touch with the Mayor of Logan, Utah, who was shocked to hear from a dissatisfied Nordictrack customer. But even more outraged this kind of behavior was taking place in his fine, American town.

As you can see from the photo above, I've also filed the necessary papers with the Small Claims Court. In a few short weeks it will be: Mr. Siegel Goes to Inglewood.

In preparation for my big court appearance I've downloaded a bunch of legal movies so I can study the diction and deliverance of a polished lawyer. I'm also thinking about wearing a bow tie. And I'm open to any comments on the choices below:

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Rigorous defense

Until recently, this is what my wife had to look at every morning while backing out of our driveway. There is literally a peephole to spot any oncoming traffic.

Mostly because my neighbor, in all his consideration, has parked two over sized monster trucks in front of his house.

He refers to his trucks as "rigs", which is 10 asshat points in my book any day of the week.

In addition to his "rigs", his wife parks her mammoth-sized, olive green Ford Expedition further down the street. Constructing, if you will, Culver City's Great Wall of Invisibility.

To mitigate this and give my wife a better view of traffic, I hung a huge convex mirror on the palm tree in front of my house.

While hanging the mirrored contraption, my oblivious neighbor strolled by and said, "I hope that's not on account of my two trucks", adding, "I guess I should have got the bigger ones."

Real funny, douchebag.

One would expect nothing less from a clown that keeps two vicious pit bulls.

Has this in his backyard (those are two inch diameter stainless steel pipes, very noisy):

And this on his front door step:

Of course, I have my own  eccentricities, and have never been known to walk away from a good confrontation.

So I petitioned the Culver City traffic department for an additional street parking permit, citing my own my particular hardship. Naturally, I included the street scene you see in the very top picture.

The city engineers investigated. And while they didn't grant me a third permit, they did come to inspect my parking situation and the immediate vicinity.

As a result, they revoked one of my neighbor's illegally-obtained permits and have instructed him NOT to park his two "rigs" illegally in front of his house.

What an unfortunate series of consequences.

Faced with a new and inconvenient parking paradigm for his over sized vehicles my neighbor was quite upset and wasted no time confronting me on the matter.

I mimicked his previous display of cavalierness and said, " I guess I shouldn't have called the city and counted on your good graces."

Then I went inside my house.

And laughed.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

That's dope, bra.

I've written much on the benefits of being a freelancer.
Perhaps, as my fellow freelancer and good friend Mike Folino, suggests, too much.

"You're causing people to leave in droves."

"Relax, Mike. For one thing, no one listens to me. And for another, I don't think my readership measures up to half a drove."

Besides, I'm not going to let good logic stand in the way of another post on ad agency life.

You see as a staffer, you only get to see the nightmares and dysfunction of one agency -- the one you're working in. As a freelancer, I get to experience, and enjoy from an emotional distance, the collective BS that goes on from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon.

Moreover, I'm quite the active networker, so you can multiply that by a factor of 10.

Last week I was chatting with a friend who was freelancing at a shop in Orange County, where there was a mild Santa Ana and the temperatures were into the high 80's. Of course that didn't stop three cretins in the Creative Department from donning full scarf wear. One was probably a keffiyeh.

The only time I wear a scarf is when I'm skiing at Mammoth Mountain and the temperature dips into the single digits. And even then I do it reluctantly, mostly to stop my wife from nagging me.

I can only imagine these, fellows, broke out the neck warming gear because they thought it "would look cool."

I don't know where this misguided notion comes from but I do know that the desire to look cool now seems to supersede any other goal in advertising. Including the desire to "do" something cool.

Accoutrement trumps achievement.

Several months ago, I was working out of a large agency with a large communal area where creative people could "get together, collaborate and have a meaningful exchange of ideas, blah, blah, blah."

I heard this:

"That's dope, bra."

"Tight shit, yo."

"If that's not da bomb, I don't know what is."

They weren't talking about a concept, or a TV spot, or even a social media idea.

They were talking about shoelaces.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

K 9 Lives

This is my dog, Nelly.

A year ago, she was on her deathbed. She hadn't eaten for a week. The emergency vets couldn't diagnose her condition. And she could barely move. To this day we still don't know what was wrong with her.

Before administering the dirt nap gas, my vet suggested trying some simple analgesics, doggie aspirin if you will. The next day at the hospital, Nelly awoke with an energy we hadn't seen in a week. And her appetite returned. It's a little embarrassing to admit, but when I walked back to her cage and saw her, I cried.

I'm sure the Mexican lab technicians were thinking, "Pinchy puto."
But frankly, I didn't care.

That was a year ago.
And Nelly has made a full recovery.

In fact she was strong enough to go back to the hospital to have a large fibroid tumor (benign) on her belly removed. This is a common procedure with older dogs. Particularly, lab/retriever mixes.

What was uncommon however, was the second tumor the doctor found along her shoulder blade. It was, in a word, enormous.

So enormous that the vet was itching to show it to me.

I've come clean about my squeamishness and aversion to all things medical, but the vet made it clear I wasn't leaving with my dog until I viewed the hunk of meat removed from Nelly. Moreover, despite my objections, he insisted I take a picture of it.

I didn't cry when he showed me his handiwork. But I did squeal like a 7 year old little girl.

Once again, thankfully, Nelly has made a full recovery. But now she and I both have good reason to avoid any future visits to the veterinary hospital.

She, for what the doctors might do to her.
And me, for what the Mexican lab technicians think of my manhood.