Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Let's get fiscal


Today's post will piss you off.

At least, it should.

It's hard to fathom how much of our money, those Federal deductions we see subtracted from our paychecks every two weeks, gets wasted in areas of the world still stuck in the 7th century. And I'll show you exactly what I mean.

I did a little digging online and found this highly charged illustration.

The picture above is what 100 million dollars looks like next to man who could only afford some off-brand sneakers and a crappy red shirt form the local Target. By the way, those are stacks of hundred dollar bills. And the palette measures 4 feet by 4 feet, assuming palettes haven't changed since my days of driving a forklift in lovely Gardena, CA making a mere $7.62 an hour.

Now, consider the disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Wars, which I mistakenly supported in 2003, mostly fueled by post 9-11 anger. Those wars have cost us thousands of soldiers, precious lives of our best and brightest, that can never be replaced.

We've also dumped $4 Trillion Dollars in a part of the world that can best be described as God's own taint. Using the same illustrative method as above, here's what $4 Trillion Dollars looks like:



That's the same dude on the left, with the emo haircut and the Wrangler mom jeans. 

This, in no uncertain terms, is why your kids are not going to a private university. It's why you're not driving a new car with the self-repairing paint and blind side detection system. And it's why you will be drinking shitty office coffee and eating free bagels on Friday for a long time to come because you will not be able to retire until you're 82 years old.

What do we have to show for our $4 Trillion Dollars

We have nothing.

The US trained Iraqi army, once considered the world's fiercest army, refuses to fight. When confronted with ISIS, they tore off their uniforms, dropped their weapons and ran for the hills. Probably to hide behind the Yazidis.

Women, when they're not being stoned or having acid thrown in their face for going to school, are draped in bedsheets, morning, noon and night. Not because they are held in the highest regard, but because they are property and an Afghani man is free to do whatever he chooses with his property.

And on every corner of this vast area, you'll find a mosque or a madrassa, where the faithful are taught the precepts of jihad and unrelenting hatred for kaffir (that's you and I) from their Holy Koran. Books, no doubt purchased with money deducted from your paystub May 15th -- May 31st. 

Anti-Zionists like to make the point that we give Israel about $3 billion a year. You'd need a microscope to find $3 billion in the diagram above. And at least we get a return on that money, in the form of new technologies, advancements in medicine and a dependable ally in the fight against religious Fascism.

In Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Turkey, et al, we have received nothing.

Nothing.

It would be as if my wife went to Vons and dropped $1000 on groceries and then returned from the store with a soup cracker. 

Not even the soup cracker. 

Just the cellophane wrapper the soup cracker came in. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

On hornblowing


Recently, I sat down for a leisurely chat with an ad industry veteran. Turns out he is also a rabid fan of R17 so naturally, because of my insatiable need for validation, I hung on his every word.

I had mentioned that it had been a while since I put any new work in my book, or my online portfolio to be more accurate.

He stopped me mid-sentence.

"Are you crazy? Your blog is your book. You don't need new spots or outdoor boards or banner ads. You put up new material almost every day. It's digital. It's current. And it's probably the best writing you've ever done."

Here was a man who was also writing my checks at the time, so who was I to argue? Though to be honest, not every posting (this one for example) is what I would call "bookworthy." But I do subscribe to the volume theory of writing, that is for every ten pieces I write, one is good enough to make the grade.

This quantity to quality axiom does not appear to be in good favor those days.

It seems anything and everything that makes it to the Telly or the Internet also makes it to a FaceBook newsfeed. It doesn't matter whether it's good or not, in most cases not, it just matters that it was done.

And so we are treated to a cavalcade of work that is flat, uninspired, has no trace of an idea, or a deadly combination of all of the above.

Am I guiltess?
No, I am not.

Years ago I posted a homestore.com spot that I dubbed, "The Worst Commercial I Have Ever Produced." And it was. A million dollar, Joe Pytka-directed colossal piece of shit.

Had I been more diligent with my file keeping I could have continued the series. Here's one from the vintage folder:





That's crazy bad. But the funny thing is every time AIS would run that commercial the phones rang off the hook.

Believe me if I could find more bad work from the early days I would be an uploading fool. Hell, I'm 44 years old, what have I got to lose? Besides, as my wife often says, I lack the genetic material for embarassment.

Some of you younger hipsters and hipsterettes do not. And I would posit that not everything you do is something everyone should see.

By the way, if you recently posted some 'questionable' work and you're wondering if I'm directing this post at you, I probably am.




Monday, November 24, 2014

Equal Time


The picture above was screen grabbed off a photojournalist's page and his exploration of Equality. Having spent time as a short order cook as well as an apprentice at a fancy French restaurant, it spoke to me.

There were other fascinating juxtapositions, but you can check them out after you finish reading today's piece, which is, if you haven't guessed about equality.

In September I dropped my older daughter off at the University of Washington. And last year I wrote several posts about the journey to college and all its incumbent emotional adventures.

I would be remiss as a father, and in violation of the Sibling Act 19:31 A/b 432, if I didn't give equal time to my youngest daughter who will be flying the coop next September. Leaving me two empty rooms in the house and ample space to expand my collection of Caganers.

             

(Thanks to Kelly Fitzpatrick for bringing this one back from Spain)


It's still early in the process, but Abby has already received acceptance letters from the University of Arizona and the University of Colorado. The rejection letters are still to come, but you can imagine the relief, we, my wife and I, experienced with the first two positive responses.

Particularly since my youngest is given to drama and, with the slightest provocation, can throw a tantrum like a 5 year old who has just dropped his lollipop in the doggie doo.

I know some of you with fatter wallets and better breeding have already got your noses pointed towards Pluto. Arizona and Colorado?

"Those are hardly Ivy League Schools. What's she gonna major in Beer Bongs and Hemp?"

And that's fine, because here at the Siegel household we don't put on airs. And we're not particularly fond of labels. Or anything remotely to do with status. If the converse were true, we'd be in a lot of trouble.

I'm told my alma mater, Syracuse University, has cache in the world of communication and advertising, but now that I've been around the block a few times and know the industry for what it is, I find that rather embarrassing.

So yes, I'm proud of my daughter.

Earlier this year she had been failing an Honors Pre-Calculus Class. She stubbornly refused to ask for help. Then we had a sit down with the math teacher, who laid out a path to success that would require some hard work and determination. Well, the pit bull doesn't fall far from the apple tree. On her most recent midterm she scored a 97.

We also found out from her English teacher that my little girl is quite the writer. "Dark, brooding and funny," said her English teacher.

This news is both troubling and exciting.

On the one hand I know how hard it is to turn a dime into a dollar using nothing but the imagination and a computer keyboard. On the other hand, who's to say my daughter wouldn't surpass me as America's 7,934th best copywriter. After all she has been given a gift. A leg up. And should she decide to be a writer she has in her toolbox an invaluable asset that I never had. A bottomless well of comedic inspiration and divine dysfunction.

She went to Catholic High School.



Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Rise of Lil Chef


Oh no, you're thinking, we've reached that point with Round Seventeen wherein Rich pulls out ads from the past that never went anywhere.

Well, no.

And, yes.

I had lunch last week with my old Chiat partner, John Shirley. We met at Playa Del Rey's only Chinese restaurant. I'm not sure the place has a name. I'm not even sure it deserves one. The food isn't very good. But the portions are outstanding. And the Kung Pao Chicken is prepared with lots of those dried fiery hot red peppers I'm told you're not supposed to eat.

John was already sitting in the booth when I got there. He sprung a little surprise on me. A 150 page deck that we had done for the Hardee's pitch back in 2001. I'm gonna assume the statute of limitations has run out on me sharing some of the ideas.

Besides, upper management at Chiat didn't love the ideas then, I'm sure they don't have much use for them now.

In any case, our plan was to bring back Lil Chef. He was the Hardee's spokesman in the early 1960's and we were always fond of tapping into old brand DNA. It had built-in authenticity.

We were also very fond of Jack from the Jack in the Box campaign and knew that a founder strategy for fast food was a solid approach.

Lil Chef was different in that, at least in our incarnation, he was very much the reluctant spokesperson. He had retired a long time ago and was content to rest his 7 foot plastic body (think Bob's Big Boy), sit by the pool and nurse highballs of Kentucky bourbon.

That's right, we wanted Lil Chef to be a curmudgeonly old drunk. The first ever on national TV.

He wasn't interested in toy giveaways, in-store playgrounds or any of the nonsense associated with other fast food joints. Lil Chef was about putting out great, homemade food.

He wasn't always nice about it.
Or diplomatic.
Or even sober.

As John and I paged through the deck we found some really funny spots. Clever ways to jam in the obligatory food porn. Even some internal employee retention work that would have given the kids that worked at Hardee's a reason to smile and be happy they were on Lil Chef's team.

You know, besides the promise of getting at some of his bourbon stash.

The poorly scanned pictured above is just one sample. By the way, before the planners and account people got hold of it, it said "damn" not "darn."

If we did the ad today it would say, "Too fuckin' early!"

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Holy Jesus!


As many of you know, in addition to R17 I also maintain another blog, Kim Jung Fun, on Tumblr.

It's not so much a blog, as it is a showcase for odd PR pictures coming out of the DPRK. I like to give them silly captions.

Some people play paddleball.
Others knit quilts.
This is what I do.

As social media goes, Tumblr is quite unique. I still don't have the hang of it but I make a habit of following anyone who has taken the trouble to follow Kim Jung Fun. And so, unlike R17, the people in my Tumblr crowd are all strangers. They post strange pictures. Including the questionable light switch above.

It goes without saying that I've always been fascinated with Jesus paraphernalia.

Years ago, I ran across novelty Jesus Sport statues. And though I've never been a big hockey fan, decided I needed to have this:




I photographed the statue in front of some personal property to prove I actually own this piece of art and didn't just screen grab it off the Internet. Although I'm sure it's hard to believe those two beautiful little girls belong to me.

Why hockey, you may be asking.

Well, I found it interesting that while Jesus could walk on water, when the water was frozen, he needed skates just like Gordy Howe. Here, the Almighty One delivers a brutal hip check to the Ginger skating for the red team.

Naturally, all this sent me on an Internet Jesus Chase where I found this monstrosity:


Jesus Christ, what were the people in this South Florida church thinking?

I know, that's a bit of an oxymoron, as many of you have already jumped ahead, people in South Florida don't do a lot of thinking. But don't jump too far ahead.

Because the only thing more shocking than the construction of this audacious monstrosity was its inevitable demise. Make sure you stick around until 1:31. If this country were to elect a woman for President, Sandy Smith would get my vote.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

It Takes All Types


I became a copywriter in 1984. Since then, I've met all kinds of creative people. More, I would argue, than the average 44 year old.

I've met the Good German. You know this person. He is or she is willing to do whatever management wants them to do.

"Cram these 8 unique selling points into this 30 second commercial."

"You got it boss."

"When you're done with that, give me a 15 second cut down. With the same 8 points."

"No problemo."

Then there's Petey Politician. Sadly, you've come across this shifty person too. He or she is always two moves ahead of you. And operates in that vague netherworld behind closed doors or after hours drinking establishments.

Petey Politician is so skilled with the back-stabbing knife that he or she can wield it out in the open, even while reviewing work at a creative gang bang.

"This work is great. And it seems to be on strategy. But is it ON strategy?"

A subtle change in inflection, but Karl Rove will tell you, that's all it takes. Next thing you know, your campaign is going in the storage files and your rival's campaign is going to the storyboard phase.

And then there's Herman Hardhead, the Passionate Purist. My favorite.

If you haven't known or met these folks you're missing out on the fun this business has to offer. Because these are the people, who, through their actions, their refusal to give one inch, their volcanic tantrums, give birth to the stories that get told at raucous Christmas parties or 15 hour shoots in the flats of Ridgewood Crest.

In accordance with R17 no-name policy I won't divulge his identity, but I remember one particularly short-fused writer, who came to Chiat/Day via Wieden & Kennedy. When it came time to defend his work, he Defended his work. First with his sailor's tongue. And then, more often than not, with his well-calloused fists.

Furniture got busted.
Foamcore boards got torn in two.
And panicked Account people and planners left the room crying.

Good times.

Though not skilled in the art of pugilism, I've also been known to be obstinate. However, pushed, shoved and threatened with unemployment, I've often folded like a cheap hotel wedding chair.

I have a friend who is a bonafide Purist. He refuses to suffer the Death of a Thousand Cuts. I vividly recall the time he was asked to make a small creative change, a change he was convinced would compromise the spot that had spent months in the gestation period. Whereas most people would have acceded to the tiny revisions. He wouldn't budge and stood his ground.

"I'd rather kill the concept and come up with a new idea."

Legendary.
A demonstrable act of courage, conviction and uncompromising creativity.
An inspiration, really.

Six months later, the client came up with a new agency.


Monday, November 17, 2014

A Rough Cut


Did you have a good weekend?
I did, sort of.

I went to a memorial.
The second in the course of a month.
I'm hoping there's not a third anytime soon.

We gathered on a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon, the kind of afternoon that makes East Coasters, Midwesterners and Northern Californians jealous, to say farewell to our good friend and editor extraordinaire, Rick Shambaugh.

Like the previous memorial, there was an outstanding turnout. Similarly, it was another cherished opportunity to be among my old Chiat/Day colleagues, who as many noted, are more like family. There was an undeniable warmth in the air that was not attributable to any Indian Summer or Santa Ana winds.

Being with them brought back a flood of memories. Of late nights and weekends in the old warehouse next to Gold's Gym, Antioch, the Binocular Building and of course, Playa. These were the people that built the Chiat/Day legacy.

There was modest representation from the Creative Department, but most in attendance were Producers, Editors and staff from VBE, quite frankly, the best in the business.

It wasn't until I left Chiat/Day and started working at other agencies, with other in-house production people, that I realized how talented, professional and tight, these people were, and continue to be.

Rick was part and parcel of this team.

As I sat and listened to the eulogies, tales of Rick's missionary adventures in Africa, camping in the Mojave desert, working at a nuclear power plant, I was reminded, fittingly, of a phrase I heard in college. A film professor told us how in Italy, people subscribed to the notion of  'fate un cinema.'

Make a movie.

Your life, it is said, should be like a movie. It should be larger, more expressive, with lower lows and soaring highs. Your life should include stories that other people will talk about, laugh about and cry about.

If it wasn't apparent before, it certainly was yesterday. Rick led that kind of life.

I would always catch snippets of it while we sat in his edit bay, mostly while the Avid machine was rendering. Or buffering. Or transferring tape to D-9. All these years in the business, and I still don't have a clue about the terminology of film and video.

We spent hours, days and weeks in that smelly little room. It's why I selected this picture, above the hundreds of others that are floating around on Facebook. It's the way I remember Rick, looking at the back of his head while he drilled down on the rough cut.

To be honest, I never had the stamina to lock myself in a bay and piece together a story frame by painful frame. Rick did. He started as an errand boy and by the process of osmosis and Pennsylvania-born working class determination, taught himself into the profession. He got so good that often times my partner and I would simply hand him the script or some stupid corporate jack-off manifesto and walk away.

We'd show up later and it would be done.
Start to finish.
A polished piece of perfect communication.

Well, that is until Lee Clow had his revisions.

It is hard to believe that this gentle, stubborn, sometimes-quirky soul is no longer with us.

Whether he knew it or not, Rick, a film editor by trade, embraced the idea of 'fate un cinema.' But like all great movies that manage to transcend the screen and take you out of your world, this movie, Rick's movie, ended way too soon.






Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Fenske Credo


I've made no secret of my admiration for Mark Fenske.

Mark is a professor at VCU now, but when he made a living as a copywriter he wrote unlike any other. Perhaps that's why his name was all over the awards books, which made it a whole lot easier to mimic his style.

In addition to teaching, Mark maintains -- and I use that word sparingly -- a blog. He puts up an entry every month or so, which means he has about two regular readers, me and whenever he does an infrequent spellcheck.

His most recent entry however struck a chord.

He tells his students, aspiring copywriters and art directors:

"Just do the opposite of everything you see."

His reasoning is simple. 99% of everything you see on TV, Twitter, Facebook, etc. is utter crap. That is undeniable. If you want to do something good, don't do crap.

It is for me, the first litmus test any work I present.

If it sounds like, looks like, or smells like anything that's out there I don't want to have any part of it.

If only clients bought into the same criteria. They don't. Their rationale is equally simple. If it doesn't sound or look or smell like anything out there they get nervous. Because it is different.

And, if a campaign dares to be different it also, by definition, flirts with failure. And as much as corporate yahoos and motivational masturbators would have us believe in the redemptive power of failure, the truth is Chief Marketing Officers with multiple mortgages and a sweet corner office will run away from risk faster than the Democrats ran away from Obamacare.

As a result we get shit, shitty and shittier work.

Special effects dreck.

Overwrought manifestos.

Or happy smiling millineals in contrived situations speaking committee-written adtalk to other happy smiley millineals whose manicured beards should be pulled out by hand and shoved down their precious organic-only pieholes.

Sadly, it's also why there's little chance we'll see work like this anymore. Authentic, insightful and delightfully-small.

I'm sure Fenske would agree that God blessed the Creative Director who has the balls to ask for small.







Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Working but not working


I'm often accused of being the busiest freelancer in all of Los Angeles.

Whenever headhunters or creative service managers call, I frequently have to decline because I am booked elsewhere.

I enjoy being busy, namely because it puts food on my table and keeps the hungry Accounts Payable folks from the University of Washington off my ass. Putting a kid through college is expensive, fill up those 529 accounts you young parents.

But after 10 months of solid steady work through the bulk of 2014, I decided to take a little "me" time. I didn't do any smiling and dialing. I didn't alert folks of my availability. And I didn't work the network.

Fortunately, the phone cooperated.

Of course I am cursed with an unholy relationship with my computer.

So instead of doing what I should have done, I spent the better part of the last three weeks, waking up early, drinking copious amounts of coffee and clacking away on the keyboard like some harried cub Metro reporter on a midnight deadline.

I should have rewarded myself with some down time. Gone off in the car on a road trip. Played some golf. Or read some books at the beach, where, sorry East Coast friends, it is still balmy and in the high 80's.

I didn't do any of that. Perhaps because there have been three untimely passings from my Chiat/Day family. Three unmistakable reminders that our time here is short. And there are no guarantees. So, I've recommitted myself to write more -- with the hope of getting another book published. Due in large part to the various emails and feedback I get from you.

"I love your blog."

"I wake up and read R17 first thing in the morning."

"You're a sanctimonious self-righteous, self-obsessed pig. Keep up the good work."

The routine is not at all unpleasant.

I shit.
I shower.
I don't shave, my beard is surprisingly white for a 44 year old man and has given me the look of a young Walt Whitman.
I make fast work of my online chess opponents.
And then I rattle off 1000 to 1500 words a day.
About 258 of them are actually usable.

At the end of the day I like to get some exercise in and have been walking from my house to very popular Baldwin Hills Overlook Stairs. I spotted the sign (pictured above) at a vacant storefront off Jefferson. And you know me, I'm a sucker for a good cheap laugh.

From the ridiculous to the sublime, you also can't beat the views from the top of the hill.











Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I beg to differ


A few weeks ago, I mentioned the three sweetest words a freelancer can ever hear:

"The strategy changed."

Sweet, because if the strategy has changed it means the work is wrong. Not wrong because of anything I or the other creatives have done. Or didn't do. It's simply wrong because the client has changed their mind.

When you're on staff that can be pretty demoralizing. It means starting over. It means all that thinking, all that crappy pizza, all those football games missed because you spent the weekend in the office, was all for naught.

Same goes for a freelancer, but it also means getting paid twice.
And who doesn't like getting paid twice?

Naturally, if you're an agency president or CEO, you'd like clients to stop changing the strategy. But don't count on that happening anytime soon.

Strategies, like everything else in the corporate world, start at the bottom. They're jammed out by junior clients sitting down with junior planners and junior account executives. More often than not these are the same twenty somethings who, five years earlier, were all gathered at the same fraternity parties playing beer pong and doing keg stands.

There's a chance they'll get the strategy right but there's also a chance my hair will grow back or that I will be able to slip into my 32 inch waist dungarees.

While these juniors haven't had much real business world experience, they have learned the cardinal rule for conducting ad agency business in the year 2014:

"Don't be difficult."

No one likes a contrarian. I can speak from experience on that. Confrontation, even of the most constructive sort, has no place in today's conference rooms.

You want to be a boat rocker, a pot stirrer or even a pirate, you get yourself a job in chartered accountancy.

The key, and millions of fast risers on linked in.com can tell you, to maintaining a good client/agency relationship is to know when to say no -- never.

Pushing back and hashing things out until they make sense, well, those are the practices of dinosaurs. Moreover, they lead agencies down a dangerous path that can only lead to one thing, the dreaded Review.

Nope.

Better to nod your head, take copious notes, come back to the agency and tell the creatives exactly what the client wants. Then a week later, do it all over again.

Because the strategy always changes.

The process never does.






Monday, November 10, 2014

Merry Fuckin' Christmas


You Gentiles are crazy.

I wanted the use the word goyim but my wife insists that's not polite. She doesn't care for the title of today's piece either.

You should hear yourselves, particularly last week.

"Christ Almighty they're already starting with the X-mas ads."

"Didn't I just take down the damned Christmas lights?"

"Ho, ho, holy shit I'm not ready for this again "

Those are not verbatim quotes, but I think you'll agree there's a lot of hostility in the crisp early November air. Personally, I find it shocking. If my understanding is correct, Christmas is the most cherished holiday on the Christian calendar.

For the most part all this hostility is self-directed. That is, it's not coming from us, your older Hebraic brothers.

My people have learned how to deal with the obscene annual display of crass commercialism. We've developed our own rituals; skiing, traveling, movie-going and dining at hole in the wall Chinese restaurants, leaving us largely oblivious to your unsavory Savior birthday celebrations.

We've adapted. And if I may speak for the Tribe at large, we find it all so amusing. Particularly how the political correctness movement has given rise to the media-driven War on Christmas.

You see, it's not Jews who are insisting on the use of the more secular Happy Holidays in lieu of the more classic Merry Christmas. You want to put Santa and his red nosed reindeer on the roof of the White House, go for it. And we certainly have no desire to take the Christ out of Christmas.

In fact, we insist you put him back in. Strategically, it's good PR.

Jesus is often referred to as King of the Jews. Where was he born and raised, Bethlehem and Nazareth. Ipso facto, the King and his people lived, breathed and inhabited the land of Israel, a country so many these days are hell-bent on de-legitimizing.

So deck the halls with boughs of holly, whatever the hell that means. Break out the ugly sweaters. Get those antlers on the SUV. Tis the season to be jolly. Put a smile on your face.

It could be worse. Christmas could be a Jewish Holiday.

Think about that. You'd be eating pancakes made of flour and gritty sand to remind you of the wandering Mary and Joseph had to endure to find a suitable place to give birth.

Instead of gifts under a pine tree your ungrateful children would get small gold wrapped coins filled with frankincense and myrrh.

And every year you'd build a manger scene in your backyard. And your family would spend 12 miserable days in the manger. They'd eat bitter herbs (because we love our bitter herbs), sleep on mattresses made of hay and kvetch about the spotty wi-fi off your neighbor's inappropriately named network -- Scotty's House of Chubby Porn.

So cheer up and thank your lucky stars it's not Tu B'Shevat.




Friday, November 7, 2014

Kim Jung Fun Part Five


Lim Chung (far right) has difficult time keeping straight face as Dear Leader explains, “Yes, my refrigerator is running.”


The camera doesn't lie and sometimes the camera catches Kim's henchmen in awkward moments. 

These are the most telling photos and always merit my attention. I love the look on the face of the older man on the extreme right. It is fascinating in so many ways.

Speaking of faces, recently FaceBook has begun automatically tagging the pictures with the names of many of my Asian friends. I want to apologize in advance for that miscue.

I don't think you all look alike, but Facebook does.   




"I like this youtube thingie. Let’s watch this one, ‘Two Girls, One Cup."

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Kim Jung Fun Part Four


"Yes, I said a 10 foot high chocolate waterfall in the master bedroom. Do you not see that I am holding the Big Pointy Stick of Instant Gratification?"


One of the odd things about daily jokes about Kim Jung Un (by the way, like Mohammar Quadaffi, there are many ways of spelling Kim's name, I picked this one at the very beginning before news channels selected the alternate Kim Jong Un, so I'm sticking with it) is I never know which ones will be popular and which ones won't.

This particular picture and caption never caught on. 
But, it's always been one of my favorites. 
So I'm posting it again. 
If you still don't like it, well, tough titties.

Here's another I like:




Kim Jung Un wants to conquer the USA, 
not only for our natural resources, but for our precious factories.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Kim Jung Fun Part Three


Guards escort a Kim Jung Un impersonator to prison. Authorities grew suspicious when the man declined dessert, adding, “I’m not hungry.”


This was one of the very early pictures. Believe it or not I'm having a difficult time choosing from the very extensive archives which dates back to April 2013. 

A sad reminder that I need to get out of the house more or take up a hobby.



In preparation for the eventual North American land assault, 
a young North Korean soldier trains on a tank simulator.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Kim Jung Fun Part Two


Taking advantage of the warm natural light at the Pyongyang fishery, Dear Leader eagerly shows off his new peacoat from J. Crew.


Know who else enjoys these Kim Jung Un photos?

My old boss, legendary advertising icon Lee Clow. This is quite flattering as Lee has made a living tossing out good ideas in favor of great ones. 

He's even gone so far as to "favorite" some of my Kim Jung Fun tweets on Twitter. If I could only get him to hit the ReTweet button instead, so that his 8 gazillion followers would see it, I might be able to swing a book deal.

I like to imagine Lee strolling over to his computer, sipping his coffee, clicking on my tumblr page, smiling and thinking to himself…

"Oooo, I wonder what kind of funny stuff Brian has posted today."



Here's another from the archive:


Health Inspector asks Dear Leader to refrain from stuffing crackers in his pocket. And assures him there will be free samples after the tour.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Kim Jung Fun Week


Last month, we hit an all time high in web traffic, more than 11,789 page hits/visits/eyeballs coming to RoundSeventeen.  I can never make sense of of Internet jargon. 

I only know that more people are stopping by. And that faintest hint of validation is all I need.

To celebrate this new benchmark, we're kicking off with another Theme Week. 

As some of you might know, I maintain two blogs. 

RoundSeventeen and Kim Jung Fun. I would promote the Kim Jung Fun blog on social media but Facebook hasn't worked out the html interface thingamajig and every time I try to put up a link it shows up as spam.

This week I've decided to reach into the archives and pull some of my favorite jabs at the child king of North Korea and republish them here for your amusement. 

Sure it would be nice to build up a following for the Kim Jung Fun tumblr blog, but I'm doing this for more selfish reasons. You see I've been working on some other writing projects (more on that at a later date) and it's taking a lot of my time and energy. 

Frankly to maintain my low standards on both would require me to abuse opiates and caffeine. And I'm not about to start abusing caffeine.

Here's one from a long time ago:




North Korea launches missile; lands on other side of North Korea.




Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Boondoggle of all Boondoggles -- Homestore Part 6


It appears my 5 part series on Homestore has turned into a 6-parter. I apologize.

Having traversed the country and shot all the various homes, we still needed one more crazy house to complete the series. The research was exhaustive. My partner, John Shirley, vowed that we would finish this project in style and combed the Internet for outrageous homes in Hawaii.

My dogged persistence must have rubbed off on him. Because he found us our last house.


September 19, 1999 -- Waipio Valley, Hawaii

After a silky smooth direct flight to the Big Island, we board a van, pinch ourselves and head to our hotel, the swanky Mauna Kea. I've been to Kauai, Maui and Oahu many times. We love it. But there is nothing quite as amazing as being in an expensive Hawaiian resort on the company dime.

Somebody (Chiat/Day and Homestore) was paying me to be here for a week!

"Yeah, hello Room Service, I'd like a pitcher of the papaya juice."

"The small one or the big one?"

"The $48 one."

"Excellent sir, and how many glasses will you need? 4? 6?"

"Oh no, just the one."

The following morning, we drive to the other side of the island, exit the van and enter a monster 4x4 truck, the only vehicle powerful enough to make the treacherous descent down the narrow mountain road into the Waipio Valley.

Crossing taro patches and knee-high streams we criss cross 6 miles into the rainforest where we meet Linda Beech, a 73 year old former TV actress who owns the Waipio Valley Tree House.


Along the path of this incredible journey we had met many characters, one crazier than the next. But Linda was crazy interesting. She had a PhD. in Philosophy, had travelled the world extensively, was a regular actress in a Japanese sitcom and exhibited the kind of fortitude you just don't expect from a septuagenarian.

I could not possibly do Linda Beech, the 1900-foot waterfall in the backyard or the entire experience, any justice.

But this snippet might.


Epilogue 1

Months after completing the film, we find ourselves in Park City, UT for the Sundance Film Festival. Hollywood assholes are crawling the streets, making deals and shmoozing. We, on the other hand, the Chiat/Day crew have the slopes to ourselves and are living the good life. The movie premieres to excellent reviews and the grateful Homestore client reciprocates by staging a private party at one of Park City's most exclusive restaurants.

It is here that we -- a team of less than a dozen -- drink more than $2000 worth of Cabernet Sauvignon.


Epilogue 2

While the film makes its way through art house theaters across the country, the commercials remain unseen. There is no money in the budget for media, we are told. And now it becomes painfully clear why. As mentioned at the very beginning of this series, Stuart and his gaggle of unethical Yes Men, have been syphoning money away from the company and into their very own personal bank accounts.

And what money there is, turns out to be ill-gotten.

Once again, the Fickle Finger of Fate has intervened and dropped a turd in my career punchbowl. The commercials, which were years in the making, were only seen in a few test markets. And never given the exposure they deserved. You can see most of them online or in my portfolio if you're so inclined.

But the truth is we got so much more than a few clever TV spots for our reel.

We witnessed the Shakespearean rise and fall of a company and its pigheaded founder, who is due to be released from Federal prison some time in 2015.

We had the opportunity to travel across the country, meet fascinating people and make a film that merited two thumbs up from Roger Ebert and The Other Guy.

And we came away with a story, of an adventure few in advertising can rival.

I'd give anything to do it all over again.

Friday, October 31, 2014

"We're not in Kansas anymore." "Thank God." -- Homestore Part Five


August 15, 1999 -- Topeka, Kansas

The Atlas E 65 Series was the first ICBM developed and deployed in the United States. Built at the height of the Cold War, the Atlas was 100 times more powerful than the atomic bomb exploded over Nagasaki. During the 1960's the Atlas missiles, launched by satellite relay, were hidden underground in silos scattered throughout the heartland of America.

After the Cold war, the missiles were decommissioned and the sites were auctioned off to adventurous homeowners.

Including Ed and Diane Peden, who turned an abandoned 7 story underground silo into their home.

The Missile Home was our fourth installment for Home Movie; the previous three have been discussed earlier this week.

As a fan of history and someone who has taken great interest in the conflicts of the 19th century, I was extremely excited about visiting this now-vacated missile silo. It was odd to think that at one time several high ranking Soviet officers had targeted this are for destruction in a possible pre-emptive first strike.

Had the Russians visited the place they would scrapped those plans and said to hell with them, anyone who wants to live in Topeka has already been damned by the devil.

And by that, I mean it was HOT.

I grew up in Upstate New York and knew of all kinds of heat and humidity. But Topeka, Kansas, in the middle of summer, on a windy day, was something unto its own. This was God's own convection pizza oven.

Frankly, I expected the surrounding fields of wheat to burst into spontaneous combustion.

The only relief was to get out of the searing wind. And the only way to do that was to get in the elevator with our host, Mr. Peden and go underground.

Here, he and his wife, spent thousands of dollars and thousands of man hours tearing out the ancient analog computers and military paraphernalia and replacing them with wicker furniture and LaZ-Boy recliners.

Surreal doesn't even begin to describe the experience. Feeling like you were buried alive is a much more accurate description. It was claustrophobic. It was dark. And it was dank.

I've come to understand the word dank has been appropriated by stoners and hipsters and has come to mean something of unusually high quality. But I am using the word dank in its original form, meaning clammy, unaired and musty.

As if that were not unpleasant enough, our hosts, who were very sweet Midwesterners, insisted we stay for one of the rituals they conducted every week in the basement (an odd term to use considering the whole house was a basement) -- The Eastern Kansas Peace Drum Circle.


I'm going to assume you know enough about me to ascertain my disposition towards drum circles.

And so it went.

Above ground, 130 degrees of whipping wind and scorching sun. Below ground, a modern day catacomb accompanied by the endless pounding of rhythm-less white people on bongo drums. Two sides of the coin otherwise known as Hell.

Side note: Topeka, Kansas is the home of the late Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church Fame. Is it any wonder why that man was so damn angry?


Coming up tomorrow, the dream of every copywriter and art director who have ever worked in advertising -- OPEN ON A TROPICAL ISLE IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC.



Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Whirlwindy City -- Homestore Part Four

    

                
                                (homestore toilet paper…er, stock certificate)

Before we continue the fourth installment of the Home Movie travelogue, it should be noted that back at homestore.com headquarters the slimy executives were positively exuberant.

You see they had put out on IPO on homestore stock which opened at $21 dollars a share. In the following weeks, the price doubled, tripled and quadrupled. In fact, at its height the price went up to $140 a share, about seven times the original price.

We were to find out, later, that this was not because Stewart Wolff and his crack team of entrepreneurs were acute businessmen. Or even just damn lucky.

Turns out they were cooking the books.
"Homerunning", I believe is the appropriate white collar term.

Every deal, every barter, every transaction that involved homestore was recorded as revenue or income. They did this to fool the venture capital people to keep funding their house of cards. Consequently, this pumped up the stock price.

When rumors that the SEC was poking around, there was a huge company gathering at the Thousand Oaks Auditorium, where the faithful were assuaged by the WolffMan himself.

"Everything is good. We're profitable. And we're confident. Hold onto your company stock. Hell, buy more. We're going to be bigger than MicroSoft."

That's hard to do from the inside of 8 foot by 10 foot jail cell.




May 21, 1999 -- Palos Hills, IL

We arrive in Chicago about 7PM and check in to our hotel off Michigan Ave. It's my first time in the Windy City but I almost didn't see it. We were at a Westin and I had been upgraded to a junior suite on the 42nd floor.

Keep in mind this was a long time ago, when ad agencies recognized business travel for the sacrifice it was. And in return for giving up free time with friends and family, treated employees more like human beings and less like indentured servants.

It was there I encountered the Heavenly Bed™, Westin's branded bed, that quite frankly cannot be topped. I put my bags down and while admiring the floor-to-ceiling view of the lake, fell asleep and almost didn't make the trip with the production crew for a night on the town. And way too much deep dish pizza.

The following day, we load up the vans and head to Palos Hills, where we meet Ben Skora. Like Wild Bill, he marches to the beat of his own drummer. This, as Director Chris Smith often told us, is more important, much more important, than the house themselves.


Ben's house, which was all electric and featured Star Trek like doors, robotic mannequins and a potted plant that could turn into a potty, were all run of the mill gadgetry. To be honest, the craftsmanship was on the shabby side and his taste in furniture was less 1999 and more 1979.

Ben introduced us to Arok, a hand built life size robot. And we met his "friend" Darlene, an aspiring actress who was convinced that with the right headshot and one good break she could be the next Julia Roberts.

Sadly, her appearance in Home Movie was not that epiphany.

The highlight of the day happened at lunch time. While enjoying authentic Mexican-ish style fajitas in the backyard, Ben told us of the time when he and Arok were invited to judge the Miss Nude World Contest in Las Vegas.

He was itching to show us the pictures and went inside the house and came back with no less than 8 photo albums detailing the debauchery that took place at the old Riviera Hotel on the Vegas Strip.

I spent the remainder of the day poring over those photos. Through the magic of Polaroid I saw men in bell bottoms. I saw women who had never heard of the French or Brazilian wax. And I witnessed firsthand many of the astonishing things Miss Kentucky could do with balloon animals.


Coming up tomorrow -- the birthplace of the Westboro Baptist Church and an all expense paid trip to the swanky Mauna Kea.