Thursday, October 19, 2017

Learning about Loofas

When it comes to women, I like the ones that get straight to the point. They don't dilly dally around with all kinds of useless narrative. They dive right into the deep end.

And speaking of watersports, say hello to Molly.

She's clearly into the wet stuff.

Oh and Game of Thrones, too.

You'll see.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Bitch on the Pitch

It's October and I've been watching a lot of baseball lately.

This is only notable because I don't watch baseball any other time of the year. I find it slow and tedious and nap worthy. But after 1162 regular season games the post season games are here. And now it all means something.

October is also when I rediscover my love of the game. Baseball is rarely physical or brutal like football. Nor is it fast and athletic like basketball. So much success at baseball relies on strategy. Careful attention to details. And pinpoint execution. (Advertising managers should be forced to take a seat behind home plate.)

In many ways it's a thinking man's (or woman's) game.

Watching the pitch count. Putting up the right or left handed batter. Stealing a base at the right moment. Shifting the defense. Managing the pen. Having an endgame. It's all so beautifully choreographed. It's like a chess. It requires patience, 3D level thinking and the willingness to change on the fly.

Perhaps the most fascinating part of watching baseball is witnessing the cat and mouse game between the pitcher and the hitter. The guys in the broadcast booth do a damn fine job of mapping out the scenarios. And if I'm partial to one, that would have to be Ron Darling, who brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the job.

But for Christ's sake can someone, somewhere, somehow, tell me the difference between a 4-seam fastball and a two seamer? Or the difference between a curve ball and breaking ball? A slider? A hanging slider? A cutter? A split finger fastball?

Knuckleball, I got, because years ago I saw a little piece narrated by Phil Niekro, the King of the Knuckleball, explain its unusual corkscrew motion.

I wish the brass at Fox or TBS or ESPN would take note and provide some onscreen guidance here. Because this situation raises its ugly head every year at this time. And I can't imagine I'm the only one in America who is Googling 'Change Up' pitch while watching Aaron Judge go down swinging for the 800th time.

Maybe I'm wrong.

Maybe there is no difference at all between all the aforementioned pitches. Maybe it's all jargon (ad people know all about that.) Maybe it's just fancy names meant to confuse and bewilder the viewer. After all when a ball is hurtling at you at the speed of a meteor, the nomenclature is irrelevant. Maybe the powers that be just want to keep us uninformed, confused and clueless.

After all, that's how we got Precedent Shitgibbon.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

"Did you bring your Cassio?"

I like cheese.

The kind you can melt on a sandwich, making almost anything edible including liver, Jewish brisket and 3 day old tilapia.

But I also like the cheese that shows up on TV.

And no one does cheese better than Cellino & Barnes, who in addition to being top notch injury attorneys specializing in twisted ankles, sidewalk cracks and slippery handrails, are also the undisputed champions when it comes to late night television advertising.

Turns sideways and let me place this ear worm in your head.

That is a work of art.
Cellino and Barnes may be the Gilbert & Sullivan of our times.

There's so much craftsmanship that has gone into this jingle. And I know, from experience.

 I've told this story many times, but years ago my partner and I had to do a spot for Outback Steakhouse. I can't remember whether I wrote the jingle (if I did, it was involuntary) but I do remember recording it at a jingle house on West 57th Street, in the house that Crackerjacks/Rheingold/Marlboro built.

These were skilled musicians, who having unsuccessfully plyed their wares at smoky Greenwich Village jazz bars, turned to the more lucrative world of jingle-making. Their attention to detail was both impressive and, given the nature of the final product, horrifying.

I can't help but to imagine the same pride and professionalism went into the Cellino & Barnes sessions.

LEAD SINGER: Something's not right.

SINGER A: Maybe we should try a C flat?

SINGER B: That downbeat isn't cutting it for me.

SINGER C: I have an idea.

LEAD SINGER: Lay it on us, daddio.

SINGER C: What if we try it like Attorn...eys  888...8888.

LEAD SINGER: It's 3 o'clock in the morning, what have we got to lose?

I don't know if that's how it happened. I only know that somehow the gods of creativity smiled upon Cellino & Barnes that day. And millions of Americans, who might have had a head-on, T-bone or rear end collision, finally knew where to take their legal woes.

Update: Sadly, Mr. Cellino and Mr. Barnes are no longer on speaking terms. They've decided to take their ambulance chasing legal expertise and go their separate ways. Should Cellino or Barnes return to recording studio to go solo and write a new jingle, it's safe to say they're going to have a hard time topping themselves.

Monday, October 16, 2017


"What a fucking moron."

Somewhere a White House historian, charged with documenting the daily life and activities of the presidency must record the news of the day, is entering that phrase for posterity's sake.

Oh Precedent Shitgibbon can call it FAKE News and Liddle Secretary of State Rex Tillerson can offer half-hearted denials, but just as "four score and seven years ago" and "ask not what your country can do for you" are part of our national lexicon, there can be no question that 100 years from now, teachers of American history will be telling their students of the time when the President wanted to quadruple our stockpile of nuclear weapons and his most senior cabinet member responded with...

"What a fucking moron."

In fact, when this dim, fishbrained twatwaffle is laid to rest, and is peacefully enjoying his dirt nap, you can be sure vandal after vandal will work tirelessly to evade the security guards to spray paint on his tombstone...

Here lies a Fucking Moron.

I don't like Rex Tillerson, but I can empathize with Rex Tillerson.

Truth is, I don't like any of his cabinet, including Kelly, McMaster and Mattis. Because if they had any integrity, any intelligence, any semblance of a spine, they'd invoke the 25th Amendment, take away his nuclear football and kick this fucking moron to the curb.

But, having worked in advertising, I think we can all empathize. Because there's a good chance you too have worked for a fucking moron(s).

I know I have.

And you know when that happens, it makes winning new business incredibly difficult. Because potential new clients can sniff out incompetency and tend not to want to place their enterprise in the hands of a fucking moron.

While winning new business is difficult, keeping it is even more so. Because clients already on the roster, see and experience the fucking moron and all his fucking moronity on a daily basis.

And finally working for a fucking moron is simply no picnic.

Because everything you do, everything you work for, every ambition you hold close to your heart, can come crashing down like a 100 foot tall Jenga tower when one gin-fueled slip of the tongue passes the lips of your fucking moron.

Of course, there isn't a day that goes by that I am not grateful for living through what Rex and HR and Kelly and Mad Dog are living through now. Because having worked for a fucking moron, I decided a long time ago to venture out on my own, so that I never have to work for a fucking moron ever again.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

One Rong Make it Right

We're now on the fourth month of our Thursday AsiaDate Series.

I usually have to read through a dozen or so letters before I find one worth a reply. Today, was a little different.

I struck gold on just the third letter.

At least I think I struck gold.

You be the judge.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Dick's Pics

When you self impose a regimen of near daily posting on Roundseventeen, as I have for the past 9 years, there are going to be days when inspiration is as hard to find as a considerate, environmentally- aware neighbor.

I could write about not having anything to write, as many writers have and will continue to do. Instead, I choose to turn to my trusty iPhone, where there is always a treasure trove of digital photos that need occasional airing.

Here then is your mish mash of Dick's Pics:

From the recent shooting of a Zach Braff show, 
when an art director had to turn my California bungalow house into a row home from Queens, NY.

From up the street on Culver Blvd., 
where an apartment building architect was clearly tripping on acid.

From my backyard, 
where I am working as hard as I can on that new anthem piece for Tire Barn.

From Lone Pine, California.
Not sure if this was an appeal for animal companionship or dinner.

From Fossil Falls on Rt. 395.
Paul's wife shouted, "be careful." But I don't think she meant it.

From University of Colorado.
My brother imitating Buzz Aldrin.

From the Denver Museum,
where the stairwells were more interesting than the art.

OK, there was this.

From my garage,
a rare Albino preying mantis surveying his kingdom.

From the very, very, very, unself-aware Gary V.

From the past,
some juvenile ad work.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Advanced Branding 444

Last week, I did a short gig at an ad agency office. This has become quite the rarity these days. Even though I'm quite the eye candy, many creative services manager opt to have me work remotely. They're probably trying to avoid having all the women, and some of the men, so inevitably distracted.

Suffice to say, it was a little unusual walking into an office. Where I usually hear murmurs of...

"Damn, I can't believe he's 44."

That's not all I hear.

Last week I was approached by three or four never-seen-before colleagues who were testament to the phrase, your reputation precedes you.

"Hey it's the Roundseventeen guy."

"Oh, you're the curmudgeon. It's good to put a face to all that crankiness."

"Dude, I love how you slam planners. And I'm a planner."

"Keep writing about these shitty open office plans. These suck."

The last comment was whispered to me in abject fear that someone higher up the food chain would hear of her real estate gripes.

But here they were, these young kids, reciting chapter and verse all the themes I've been hammering away at for the past 9 years:

Holding company madness

Salary inequality

Impossible deadlines

Planner horsecockery

Group Unthink

Frivolous Fuckwadian Digital Knick Knacks™

Hourly check ins

and Myopic Bean Counters

I'll be honest, it was quite flattering.

If only I could've bottled it up, brought it home and showed it to my wife, who might reassess her feelings about "all the goddamn time you're wasting on that goddamn blog instead of fixing the goddamn garbage disposal. This place smells like a landfill."

But I digress.

How quaint, I thought, if we could do the same for our clients. That is, through the process of repetition, humor, empathy and thematic messaging, build for the folks who spend billions and billions of dollars on advertising, a reputation that precedes them.

I'll expand on this at a later date, right now I better get running to Home Depot.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Shitgibbon, from dooooowntooooown.

Last week, you might have seen this photo op of Precedent Shitgibbon tossing paper towels to the Puerto Rican proletariat. As one of my Facebook friends pointed out, he could have simply stood by the flatbed truck and handed them out, but in all his wisdom, our fucknuckle in charge decided to stage it like some vaudevillian event.

I have no doubt that some, or at least one, of his brighter aides, and by definition anyone other than Precedent Shitgibbon is brighter, tried to dissuade him from this notion.

I find myself trying to picture how that conversation might have gone....

AIDE: So, Mr. President you'll stand beside this large flatbed truck and hand out care packages to the Hurricane victims, say few nice respectful words, blah, blah, blah, and then we'll move on. We'll have you back aboard the Air Force One in 20 minutes.

PRECEDENT SHITGIBBON: Care packages? Crackers, peanut butter and carrot sticks?

AIDE: Not good?

SHITGIBBON: They have no pizzazz.

AIDE: Pizzazz?

SHITGIBBON: This is something Obama would do. I need something that's gonna pop for the cameras.

AIDE: Pop?

SHITGIBBON: How about this? We go inside an air conditioned room, cause this heat and humidity are killing me, I stand by a table flanked by 200 rolls of Paper Towels.

AIDE: Like Bounty? Or Viva? 

SHITGIBBON: I like the ones with big, brawny guy. You know, the one that looks like me.

AIDE: It's kind of last minute but I'll...

SHITGIBBON: And then I shoot the paper towels to the people.

AIDE: I'm not sure I understand, Mr. President.

SHITGIBBON: I know you don't. Look, this is an opportunity to show the world I have big hands.

AIDE: You mean a big heart, right?

SHITGIBBON: No, I mean big hands. If I shoot the paper towels like a free throw or a three pointer the cameras will be focused on my big hands.

AIDE: So you want people to think you have big hands? And that you can shoot like a basketball player?

SHITGIBBON: Most basketball players are African American. 

AIDE: Right.

SHITGIBBON: And most have big hands.

AIDE: Right.

SHITGIBBON: And what else do most big-handed African American players have?

AIDE: Big bank accounts?


AIDE: Uh....big penises? 

SHITGIBBON: Bingo. Put the table over here. We'll have the cameras over there. And I'll shoot the paper towels from here. Oh, is it too late to get a headband?

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Cockblocked by Elmer

Fellas, how many times has this happened to you?

You come across The One.

The Perfect One.

Your soulmate.

Not just for this lifetime, but for all of eternity.

And then, from out of nowhere, almost as if the devil himself was playing with your emotions, there comes the Other Guy.

In this case, Elmer.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

On Space and Treif.

Unlike the narcissist in the White House, I am very self aware.

I know people come to Roundseventeen to watch me bloviate about the demise of advertising and go down in a glorious ball of self immolating flames. They don't come here to see me wax poetic about the nature of the cosmos.

Too bad.

Last Sunday I watched a fascinating piece on the Hubble telescope and the images it has been beaming back to earth for the past 25 years. It's jaw dropping. Particularly when the photos are analyzed by super smart galactic physicists and contrasted with the ramblings of the Aussie-born ark Builder Ken Hamm, who insists the word of Genesis are the truth and that the Earth is only 6,000 years old -- a few years older than Jackie Mason.

It also got me thinking about my own theory regarding the time/space continuum.

I don't pretend to know much about astronomy, physics, or even the Biblical teachings of some very learned goat herders who scribbled down their incoherent thoughts on papyrus some 3,000 years ago.

Here's what I do know.

With regards to space, it is infinite. It is infinite in both directions. There are no endpoints. If you could strap yourself into a rocket ship that travelled a million times faster than the speed of light and aimed yourself in the general direction of the Milky Way, you would never reach the outer boundary of the universe.

There's no wall.
There's no border.
There's no nothing.

And even if there was, what do you suppose would be on the other side? The mind reels.

Similarly, if you were to split an atom -- a feat accomplished by crazy Pakistanis and deranged North Koreans alike -- you'd find yourself on another never-ending journey. Beyond the protons, elections and neutrons are smaller subatomic particles. (You can look up the names, I have some banner ads I have to get back to)

Here, too, the journey into deep small space would never, ever end. And I would hope you packed plenty of snacks and extra underwear.

If you find yourself scratching your head, you're not alone. Our brains are simply not equipped to come to grips with this notion of vastness or for that matter, infinity. In some ways it's like our own Electoral College.

That's one half of the time/space continuum shattered.
Which leads me to the concept of Time.

It seems reasonable to me that if Space exists with no boundaries on either side, so does Time. In other words, Time will never end. Nor did Time ever begin. like space, it's infinite coming and going.

"I see where you're going with this, Rich."

Meaning, perhaps it would be wise to rethink our understanding of cause and effect. Yes, a toaster oven didn't just come to be. Someone had to design and make it. But the cosmos is not a toaster oven.

Maybe it wasn't created. Maybe there was no Big Bang. Maybe it was just always here and will always be here. And maybe there just is no God.

Now I'm looking at the photo again. I see thousands and millions of stars. And billions and billions and trillions of mile of space. If there is a God, I find it hard to believe he or she is worried whether I put bacon bits on my salad.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The good old days of advertising

It goes without saying that I'm one of those cranky old creatives who says, "Advertising was better in the old days."

And it was.

Not just because our media choices were limited (and thus more effective), but because our traveling arrangements were not.

Allow me to explain.

Last week, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tim Price had his ass handed to him for not flying commercial. He opted for the infinitely more comfortable and infinitely more humane private jet. Which, if you've had the pleasure, is the only way to cruise the skies at 40,000 feet.

My first journey aboard a private jet came unexpectedly.

We were shooting a commercial with Joe Pytka (BTW, the worst million dollar commercial I ever wrote) and the location manager was unable to find something to Joe's liking. Pytka fixed the situation by chartering a private prop jet to fly us back and forth between Los Angeles and the Four Corners Monument Valley -- recognizable from many John Ford early westerns.

The flight was loud and little more than 90 minutes each way, which gave me ample time to beat Joe at chess. Pytka does not like losing. Which made winning all the more sweeter.

My second trip aboard a private jet came not long after that, when my boss Lee Clow said my partner John Shirley and I were going to fly to Tampa to meet the most obnoxious woman in advertising, the CMO at Outback Steakhouse, a client often referred to as simply Outhouse.

This was a tiny 4-seat Lear Jet that, because of its diminutive size, had to fly at 48,000 feet above sea level. Here, the sky starts going from blue to a darker shade of outer space. The rest room aboard the Lear was nothing more than an empty pickle bucket stuck in a makeshift closet.

My favorite private jet experience came in 1999. When the new business team at Chiat/Day boarded a Gulfstream IV to fly to Incestville, North Carolina. Maybe I have the town's name wrong. In either case, it was in the deepest part of Appalachia and thus precluded us from going commercial. At least that's how it was explained to our financial overlords at Omnicom.

Dear lord, this was living.

We each had a big comfortable leather bucket seat. There was ample room to walk around. There was even a bar onboard stocked with top shelf liquor, just the way some of the top brass at Chiat liked it.

"I'll have a Rob Roy and my colleague here will have a Tom Collins."

But perhaps the best amenity onboard the Gulfstream IV was the flight attendant. I knew her from a past life when I was a short order cook and she was a waitress who would regularly ignore my late night advances.

I'm sure that as she was serving me a third platter of crackers, hummus and cubed cheddar snacks, she was thinking to herself...

"Damn, he's like a big macher now, I should have grabbed him when I had the chance."

Or, maybe not.

Monday, October 2, 2017


Hundreds of faithful Roundseventeen

OK, dozens of faithful Roundseventeen readers...

Alright, the truth is no one but my wife -- who doesn't read Roundseventeen -- has said anything about my ongoing battle with Volvo. In fact, when she did mention it, it was more in line with, "would you forget about that damn car and get the goddamned pergola in the backyard fixed?"

I'm happy to say that I'm an accomplished multitasker.

I can write moving manifestos for Tire Barn.

Track down a handyman to replace the water damaged wood beams in the pergola.

And wage a Quixotic war against these two-armed automotive bandits at 7705 Sahara Blvd. in the city of sin.

I'll spare you the lengthy recap of how this all started and invite you to read my colorful Yelp review for all the gory details. Suffice to say it started with Volvo cars of Las Vegas wanting to charge me $335 to replace the battery. Their sister city in Florida has a much more reasonable price.

Naturally, when I found this I took every opportunity to display the disparity on every Volvo Facebook page I could find.

Moreover I found out last week that the Jewish Family Services Organization, the folks I donated the vehicle to, were able to fix the car for a little more than $200. Granted they used a refurbished air compressor, but that number pales to the $2700 the good people at the Nevada Volvo dealership
 wanted to charge me.

In fact, if I am working the calculator they way I should be, the markup from the honest people at Volvo Cars of Las Vegas is close to 973%.

As the Big Lebowski might have said, "This will not stand. I cannot abide."

And so I don't.

I've filed a complaint with the BBB in Las Vegas, who not surprisingly, are quite familiar with the hardworking people at Volvo Cars of Las Vegas. I've reached out to Michelle Mortenson, the consumer investigative reporter at KLAS channel 8 in Las Vegas. And I've established a Linkedin connection with the CEO of Volvo Cars, USA, Lex Kerssemakers.

Lex has been most interested in how Lane McEnaney, General Manager, plans to resolve this situation.

By the way Lane, there's a good chance the CEO of Volvo Cars USA didn't know your name before this incident, but he definitely knows your name now.

As I wrote in my original Yelp review, voted the most useful review of Volvo Cars of Las Vegas, these folks have stepped on the wrong pitbull's tail.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Not so fast Lady

When women throw themselves at you, as they have my entire life, it tends to get a little old.

The fawning.

The flattery.

The endless "pick-me-not-her."

Frankly, I don't know how my wife deals with the nonstop solicitation of her fella.

At some point you have to just say enough.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

23andMe and You

Several weeks ago it dawned on me that the house would soon be empty again. My youngest daughter would have returned to Boulder where she had found herself living in a "janky" house and near people who were very "chewgy."

And my other daughter, having safely returned from her malaria-adjacent adventures in Kenya and Tanzania, would be going back to Seattle for her senior year at UDUB.

In this moment of susceptibility I found myself watching another one of those commercials for 23andMe. Within 3 business days, the DNA collection kit had arrived and I was salivating and spitting all that good Siegel juice into a tiny vial.

The results came back. And there were not that many surprises.

The lab properly deduced that my paternal line is dominated by Ashkenazi Jews who lived somewhere between Poland and Latvia and some god-forsaken border on the eastern front, where I suspect it got too damn cold and one of my great bubbies turned to one of my great zetas and said...

"Oy Chaim, I'm cold and I'm not taking another step. This is where we shtettle."

The science people also got my mother's line of ancestors correct, that is in the more localized areas of England, Scotland and Ireland. Here, they had determined my predecessors had been getting soused on warm flat beer since the early 1800's.

I also learned I have 261 Neanderthal variants, which is surprisingly fewer than most respondents to the 23andme project. Meaning I'm more evolved than your average Homo Sapien. Or Advertising Account Planner.

This was shocking too consider the copious amount of hair emerging from my ears, ankles and shoulders. As well as my obvious disdain for cutlery and preference for eating with my hands.

But perhaps the most interesting aspect of the results was a section entitled Your DNA Relatives.

Turns out they enter all the chromosome readings into a data base and through matching and signature reading can determine a list of possible relatives based on telltale genetic similarities.

My list was over 1000 people long.
Moreover, the report gives their names.

Being of great curiosity I scanned the list and actually found a name that corresponds to one of my Facebook friends. Don't worry no names will be used. But it turns out this woman's uncle could also be my second or third cousin.

Can you imagine getting an email from Rich Siegel to the effect of, "Hey, I think we might be cousins or should join us for Thanksgiving....can you bring some bourbon? And those spicy hot blue tortilla chips, we love those?"

I'd be hitting that Unfriend button as fast as I could.

Who knows, maybe she already has.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Me need meat.

I'm not big on impulsive.

Or, as my wife says, "I put the 'don't' in impromptdu."

I like to have a plan.
I like to plan time to make a plan.

Today is Tuesday, but I'm actually writing this last Thursday because we are going out town this weekend and I still haven't diagrammed where the socks are going in the carry on luggage.

That said, last weekend stands as an anomaly.

My Eastern Sierra camping buddy Paul called and said,

"Let's go up to Big Pine and bring back some Copper Top BBQ."

This is where it gets tricky, because for those of you who don't know, Big Pine is 252.8 miles from Los Angeles. If it were a straight shot up the 405, that could take well over a month. As it is, the drive goes up Route 395 is nothing less than a 4 hour drive.

Four hours is a long way to go for BBQ. But the tri-tip, the baby back ribs and the green chile beans from the famed Copper Top restaurant are not just any BBQ.

Not long ago Copper Top was named one of the Top Ten restaurants in the entire Golden State. Right up there with Nobu. The french Laundry. And a host of other fancy schmancy places I'll never know.

But still, that's 4 long hours in the car listening to Paul and his professorial stories about Gypsy Moths, lava tubes, Mumford & Sons, cemetery trivia and Mormon butter churners. I should mention Paul is a high school teacher.

As you can see from the picture above (me pointing to where all this good food was going) the carnivorous instincts put a beatdown on the rational instincts.

You may be asking was the 500 mile roundtrip pilgrimage worth it?

We just finished the remaining baby ribs last night and I will admit that this morning I was tempted to fish through the garbage can to see if any fleshy morsels had errantly been left on the bone.

Sadly, there were none.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Go Huskies. Go Buffs.

It's Monday morning where you are.

But it's still Friday morning for me, where I am writing this post 36 hours in advance of the kickoff between the #6 ranked Washington Huskies and the University of Colorado Buffs.

I know the phrase has been used many times in the past, perhaps even overused by zealous copywriters, but this truly is a Win-Win situation.


Because I have a daughter attending each of these magnificently overpriced out-of-state universities.

The gold flake on helmets of both teams, I paid for.

Those state of the art stationary bikes on the sidelines to keep the players warmed up, I paid for.

That giant flag emblazoned with the huge CU letters, I paid for.
And let's not forget the big W flag on the other side of the field, I also paid for that.

I look around Folsom Field and everywhere I look I see the fruits of my labor.

From the fringy epilets on the shoulders of every band member to the cashmere sweater draped over Ralph the Buffalo, because we wouldn't want the 1500 lbs. Bison getting cold in the frigid 52 degree evening air.

But none of that matters, because regardless of the outcome of the game, I rooted for the winner.

Compounding my incredible good luck is the fact that my wife, my brother and myself are here in Boulder, with both my daughters -- so this literally is a Win-Win-Win-Win-Win situation.

Monday Morning Update: I was secretly rooting for the Huskies to win and they did. Beating Colorado soundly, 37-10. Meaning they still have a chance to go to the national championship for a rematch against Alabama. And I would enjoy nothing more than another opportunity to dropkick Lou Saban and his Krimson Tide, a team that would no doubt show up at the White House for a meal with Precedent Shitgibbon.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

I'm the fella for Adela

I've been doing this AsiaDate bit for a little over two months now.

As you know every Thursday I log into my mailbox and sort through the letters of Asian women seeking an American Sugar Daddy.

I know it's a scam.

You know it's a scam.

But in a testament to the power of persuasive writing I could not help but to fall head over wallet in love with Adela.

Read her letter.

She could be the one.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Click bait

Athletes have benchmarks.

For baseball players it's 3000 hits. There's even a 3000 Hit Club. Here you'll find legends like Pete Rose, Derek Jeter, Hank Aaron and Rod Carew, who is related to me through some weird connection of marriages and cousins on my wife's side.

In football, passing for more than 50,000 yards is worthy of note. You might have heard of Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Brett Favre. How could you not have heard of Brett Favre, he's hawking all kinds of shit on TV, from copper plated healing belts to Wrangler Jeans to worthless micro-shavers that make for terrible Father's Day gifts.

Bloggers also have a benchmarks.
At least this one does.

Prior to last week, I had never had a posting get more than 3500 page hits.

Oh, I had come close.

The post about Why I Sucked as a Creative Director was a Hall of Fame entry. Apparently people like hearing me detail all my faults and misgivings.

The follow up, Why I Sucked as a Creative Director Part II, was equally popular with folks who could just not get enough Siegel humiliation.

More recently, the telling of the tale involving my most fucked up elevator ride exceeded all expectations.

And of course, I could never go wrong with pictorial pieces on Russian Dating sites, always a fan favorite.

But as I had mentioned, last week that all changed.

I posted a piece I had written rather quickly -- hint, when I get mad I write really fast. As it just seems to pour out.

It was juxtaposition piece about how Martin Sorrell saw the future of advertising and how I saw it from a more in-the-trenches POV.

The response couldn't have been bigger.
It ripped through the charts. With a bullet.

Last time I looked, it had 3,937 views. Just short of my personal benchmark of 4000.

If I can lure 63 of you to click the link above I will be a happy man.

Oh who am I kidding?

I'll just be a slight less grumpy man.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Mysteries of life

Today, this woman, former TV show contestant, Omarosa is working.

Today, as of this writing, I, a 44 year old freelance copywriter, am not.

Mind you, I have been busy lately. Last week alone, I handled a B2B campaign for a manufacturer of plumbing valves. A manifesto writing exercise for a maker of malware detection software. And some promos for some reality housewives wannabe show that will air in C-SPAN's prime 3AM slot.

But today there is nothing on the plate. And so I'll be dialing for dollars. Pounding the inter web pavement in search of agency reviews, unsatisfied clients and small production houses in Sacramento looking for some branding expertise.

It's not glamorous by any means. But it is the life I've chosen. And it's the poison I prefer.

I can't sit at the Long Table of Mediocrity™ (a term I'm seeing my colleagues use more and more.) Nor can I stomach the unpalatable gruel of jargon and process that is force-fed on staffers at an ad agency on a daily basis.

And yet I cannot help but to scratch the Omarosa itch.
She is working today.
And I am not.

Not to appear immodest, but seriously?

Here's a woman whose sole qualification seems to be her willingness to blow smoke up Precedent Shitgibbon's arse. She is seated near the levers of power. She has the capacity to shape what happens here and around the world.

And here I am hoping to get booked with a startup company that makes avocado-flavored butter.

I can't help but to be reminded of a conversation I had way back in 1998.

I was at Chiat/Day and we had just been named Agency of the Year. We were hitting on all cylinders. Winning awards. And producing campaigns that transcended into pop culture. It truly was a golden time.

We were pitching some new piece of business. And going up against some lightweight competitors. It was at this point when I found myself in a conference room sitting next to Lee Clow. Those of you who know me know I don't do the flattery thing. Sycophancy has never been in my wheelhouse, and probably goes a long way to explain my current situation.

In any case, I thought this was a good opportunity to ask Clow a question that had been on my mind.

"Lee, I don't get it, Chiat is arguably one of the best agencies in the country. In the world for that matter. We're winning awards for Apple, Levis and Taco Bell. Why do we even have to pitch clients? Shouldn't they be coming to us?"

Lee looked at me, slightly befuddled. Like I lacked some fundamental understanding of how the world was not fair and how business was conducted in the real world. And I'll never forget his response.

"I left my coffee in my office, can you go get it, Brian?"

Monday, September 18, 2017

Хороший мальчик

One of the joys about working from home and not with a gun to my head to meet some falsified deadline, is the liberty to step away from the computer and the shoestring budgets and the fakakta strategies, to do as I please.

Yesterday, I did just that.

I was pleased to take my oldest daughter on a little field trip. We got in the car and drove to a Culver City gem, the Museum of Jurassic Technology. Turns out she had never been there.

This is odd considering the museum's incredible proximity. I could literally land a golf ball on their roof with two mighty swings of a titanium driver.

Why then didn't we walk? Because even though my wife are avid hikers and log more than 50,000 steps a week, my daughters are not walkers.

It's just an incongruity of life one must accept.

Not unlike the little known Soviet Space Dogs, who pioneered our extraterrestrial adventures in search of rubber balls and meat treats. Here we learned the exploits of Laika, Belka and Strelka, canine predecessors to the much more famous Sputnik program. The efforts, and drugged napping, of these dogs has been immortalized in beautiful Soviet style posters.

In a weird (perhaps intentional) turn of fair play, the museum also featured a unique display outlining the history and magical lyricism of the Cat's Cradle.

This multimedia display had everything. A look back to the origin of the Cat's Cradle. Artwork depicting its use in torturing political prisoners. There was even a tactile area, where a disembodied voice (there are a lot of disembodied voices at this museum) will guide you through some of the more intricate Cat's Cradles you can do should you choose to pick up one of the loops of strings handled by thousands of other visitors.

Sadly, one of my favorite displays was gone. Or, perhaps we missed it. Some of the rooms in the museum are very poorly lit. Others, simply smell bad and are very uninviting. Of course, I'm talking about the robust exhibit of ancient cures and medical treatments.

We humans have some strange ideas on treating illnesses. Today, we put hot stones on our backs. Pour melted wax in our ears. Or go on 7 day lemon juice/yoga cleanses. But our ancestors knew much better.

To cure bedwetting for instance, they would make their children or husbands eat this...

Do yourself a favor and visit this incredible museum, wedged between an auto body shop and a bodega that sells awful smelling Indian spices. It's well worth the $8 admission. And you'll exit the place wondering...

"What the fuck was that all about?"

Which is quite an achievement considering the President of the United States is still defending the fine character of white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

In search of 44 year old men

It's Thursday and most of you know what that means.

However, we also have a whole bunch of newcomers to Roundseventeen.

Thanks in large part to Tuesday's post, which sort of caught fire, went semi-viral in London and skyrocketed to the top of the heap -- the most viewed post in the 9 plus year history of this blog.

And so, to welcome new readers, allow me a moment to explain.

I have a penchant for scambaiting, that is messing with internet scams by getting the heads of those seeking to exploit others via the web. Years ago, I engaged with several Nigerian con artists and collected all the back and forth correspondence. I even turned it into my own book/website available here:

Lately, and for the last several weeks I have pointed my laser focus at -- an internet scamming site designed to separate lonely middle aged American men from their money.

I created a phony profile, under the name of David Goldstein, and have been having fun answering selected would be mail order brides.

With that, I give you the obscenely young Hai Bo.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Chuck E's In Love

Before I started my career in advertising and rocketed to fame, fortune and jetsetting around the world, I toiled many years in the restaurant business.

I washed dishes.

I flipped burgers.

I chased rats out of the ceiling rafters and killed them with a mighty swing of a whisk broom.

I also had the opportunity to work in two of the coolest nightclubs in West Los Angeles.

The divey, dirty, gritty Hop Singh's on Lincoln Blvd.
And the tonier, more upscale At My Place on Wilshire Blvd.

Though separated by only 4.1 miles as the crow flies, they were worlds apart, musically.

Hop Singh's was built for jazz and blues aficionados. The place was tiny, meaning the rent was cheap. The liquor was watered down, meaning the business costs were cheap. And the labor was overworked, meaning the boss was cheap.

And he was. His name was Rudy and he was an old school Jew from the old country. And though he was sweet and funny and treated us all like his kids, I'll never forget watching him pluck swizzlesticks from the drinks that had been bussed back to the kitchen.

"What? I should let these go to waste?"

Besides getting to see great jazz greats like George Benson, Big Joe Turner and Pat Metheny, live on our tiny little stage, I also had the pleasure of hanging out with them in the Green Room. Well, it would have been Green had Cheap Rudy sprung for a paint job.

Mostly, I remember the old black guys.

I remember them in their grimy rented tuxedoes. Smoking cigarettes, telling road stories and drinking Couvoisier. And laughing. Damn, these guys could laugh. When I think back on it, the sound coming from the Green Room was sweeter and more full of life than any random plucking of bass strings and snare taps coming from the stage.

Today, the building that was home to so many legends is the now the service department for Kawasaki Jet Ski Dealership.

Across town, At My Place is now BelCampo, some fancy upscale butcher shop/restaurant where over-indulged westsiders can pay through the nose for kale-fed, hormone free porterhouse steak.

Here too I got to hang with musicians.

Ricki Lee Jones (who was in the news recently and inspired this post) played there. So did Robben Ford, Richard Eliot and the great Billy Vera and the Beaters.

The Beaters were always the most memorable. Not only for the way they would take the show off the stage and parade the audience up and down Wilshire Blvd, but also for they way they would stick around after the show. With the doors closed and the cash registers locked up for the night, the club owner would open up the bar. And we, the staff, the beaters and even the crew of Mexican busboys, would drink.

And not stop drinking until just before the sun would rise.

Now, if I'm awake at 4:30 in the morning, it's to make my fourth trip to the bathroom.

Good times.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Advertising: "I'm not dead yet."

Last week, Sir Martin Sorrell, Chairman of WPP (Wire & Plastic Products) explained why the advertising market is struggling.

With clients slashing budgets, taking marketing in-house and questioning industry metrics at every turn, struggling may be the understatement of the century.

In any case, you can read Marty's jargon-fested autospy here. He cites three reasons for the ominous downturn:

* Digital disruption

* Activist investors

* The low cost of capital money

I'd be lying through my ceramic-implanted teeth if I said I understood any of that. I don't. But having spent the past 20 plus years working in advertising and NOT Wire and Plastic Products, I have some thoughts on our current supercharged race to the bottom.

It starts with getting emails like this:

"Thanks for attending this morning's 8:30 AM briefing. By now you should all have a copy of the 56 page briefing deck. The junior planners will be coming by at 11AM to check in on your progress, answer any questions and take a peek at your first blush of work. Lunch will be brought in so that you can continue working and have material ready to show the senior planners at 2 PM. Additional check ins will include GCDs at 4 PM. ECDs at 7PM. And a team check in with the CCO (via Skype from her home) at 11PM. Please be prepared to show work in progress to the Partnership Council Committee at 7AM. There will be bagels."

Of course this is hyperbolic and in no way a true representation of how ad agencies work -- there would never be free bagels after only one day on an assignment.

Again, I have no idea what activist investors do or even what they are, I've never met an activist investors or had one hand me his or her business card. Though the other day I did read on linkedin that someone at a London ad agency had been named Chief Making It Happen Officer.

Stupid pretentious titles could be another factor in our collective demise.

This could be another:

Can you spot the difference?

The employees on the left get Summer Fridays (you know when workload permits.)

As if all that weren't demoralizing enough, finally there's the not so insignificant matter of wage disparity. I'm no Alan Greenspan, though there's a good chance I sat next to a Greenspan at last year's Rosh Hoshanah services. I don't understand the meaning of "low cost of capital money" nor its impact on our industry.

But I can pick up a Wall Street Journal and I can see that last year Sir Martin earned more than $100 million in compensation. I can also work a calculator. And can tell you that $100 million is equal to the salary of TWO THOUSAND staffers making a decent wage of $50 thousand a year.

Think how many banner ads 2000 people could crank out in a year.

Or put in other terms, 2000 workers could sew enough schmatta in one year to cloth the entire population of New Jersey.

Want to know why advertising is dying? Because the people at the top are choking the life out of people not at the top. That's why.

I'm going home to watch Jeopardy.

Monday, September 11, 2017

A Hink Full Av Hästgödsel

You know that old saying about "half my advertising budget is a complete waste of money. I just don't know which half?" 

I do.

The waste stems from a fundamental brand-to-retail disconnect. That money gets flushed down the toilet every time the behavior espoused by the brand in big million dollar marketing campaigns is not mirrored by the behavior on the ground, where the rubber meets the road.

Or in this case when the dealer tries to fleece the customer.

In other words, Tier 1 spends the money. Tier 2 sets fire to it.

Allow me to backtrack.

Weeks ago, my daughter finished her three summer sessions as a camp counselor. She served in a supervisory role. And worked her butt off. When it was all over, the staff decided to celebrate with a trip to Las Vegas. Against my better judgment, I let my daughter drive with three other counselors.

She took her 2005 Volvo S40 and hauled off the other girls who were equally happy to be done with the overprivileged whiny kids of West LA. When they hit Paradise Blvd., they ended up in hell. The car seized up and they were literally lost in Las Vegas.

This is where it gets interesting.

She had the car towed to Volvo Cars in Las Vegas, at 7705 West Sahara Blvd. A place to be avoided all costs. This is not only borne out by my experience but by other equally outraged Yelpers as well.

On TV and in my head, and perhaps yours as well, Volvo is that nice caring brand. Quirky Swedes who are looking out for the safety of me and my family. And our general welfare. In reality, or at least at Volvo Cars of Las Vegas, that couldn't be further from the truth.

The estimated cost of repairs was over $2700. For a car with a blue book value of $4000. Moreover, I had just done a major service on the vehicle three months ago, including four brand new tires. This was the mother of all flim flams.

Don't believe me?

That's a $335 charge for a new battery!

If you know anything about car repairs, and I know a little, that's about three times what it should cost. I can only imagine how they inflated all the other costs. 

$58 for a wing nut, welcome to Vegas.

Truth is, they had all the cards in their hand. And since I was 250 miles away, I decided to cut my losses and donate the vehicle to the local chapter of the Wounded Warriors.

And to give you an idea of how skeazy these sunbaked taintlickers can be, they wanted me to pay a $170 diagnostic fee (for work that was never done) before releasing the car to the charity. 

If you know me and you know this blog at all, I think it's fair to say that I can bring them well over $2700 worth of bad press.

See Trump

See Kim Jung Un 

See Jillian Richards and See NordicTrack.

See my Yelp review and click Useful.

Moreover, while I most assuredly can muster up $3000 worth of pain, it goes without saying, I will be enjoying every minute of it.

As the Swedes might say, Volvo Cars of Las Vegas is in for an Ikea-sized helping of Fukkenslaggen.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Yan to my Yin

Last week we had an unscheduled break to the AsiaDate routine.

For fans of this continuing series, I apologize.

To those who wish I'd stop this little phishing expedition, more apologies.

Today, we meet Yan. A near perfect match to my Yin.

Will she be the one? Only time and a temperature check on her feelings towards swarthy men will tell.