Thursday, April 8, 2021

The bagel war


A few weeks ago, there was a big brouhaha. 

Or shall I more accurately describe it as a Jewhaha?

You see some newspaper wrote an article about Culver City's newest eatery and had the chutzpah to declare that the bagels at Pop's could compete with, and indeed surpass, the bagels from the Big Apple. Naturally this sent some tongue's a flapping. 

If there's one thing my people enjoy -- perhaps enjoy is not the right word as we tend to deprive ourselves of enjoyment (more on that later) -- it's a good argument.

Now the whole East Coast v. West Coast Bagel/Bialy Battle just happens to be in my wheelhouse. Some would argue, given my excessive girth, it IS my wheelhouse.

When I was a kid, living in Flushing, Queens, my father would rustle my brother and I out off our 22nd story apartment, into the old Pontiac, held together with spit and duct tape, and head east on Horace Harding Blvd, the access road that ran parallel to the Long Island Expressway. Until we reached Oasis Bagels, ranked one of the Top 5 bagel makers in the World.

Did I mention we would do this on a Saturday Night? Always about midnight. Yet there'd still be a line around the block. But it was important to my father to wake up Sunday morning and have the bagels, the lox, the schmear, the whitefish salad, and the Cod Wings (you Gentiles will have to look that one up), all ready to go.

And who can blame him? 

That man worked harder and more hours than anyone I've ever known. He gave himself two hours off on Sunday morning and then it was back to pushing his oversized aquiline nose back on the grindstone.

A few years later, when we moved to the suburbs, he ran the Men's Club at Monsey Jewish Center. Every other week he'd put out a similar spread for the CPAs, lawyers, dentists and unhappily married men so they could kibbutz and kvell about their lives. 

Oh and smoke cigarettes inside the temple. 

At the end of the breakfast, there'd always be leftover bagels and lox and fixings. And guess who snatched them up to bring home? 

Yeah, I know a little about bagels. And schmears. And schnorers.

So were the writers of the controversial article correct? I can't say. 

The Pop's bagels are damn good. And they even have a superb whitefish salad. But there's something missing...is it the water...is is the dough...is it some ingredient...no, it's New York City.

The Horn and Hardart people might have won a ton of awards for this ad.

 But when it comes to lox and bagels, atmosphere is everything.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

For an especially tart takedown of Jewish food, I leave you with this

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Cool, clear water


Following last week's deep dive into my daughter's newly installed Tushy Bidet, one of the eight regular readers of RoundSeventeen suggested I bypass all that installation mishigas and get myself The Bum Gun.

The Bum Gun is stunning in its simplicity.

All I need to do is get another 3/8 inch T adaptor at my my local Lowe's Hardware Store; I could go to Home Depot but their CEO is a major right wing loonie and he won't be getting any more of DIY money.

Having successfully plugged in the adapter in my daughter's bathroom, my confidence level with this part of the operation is quite high. Then I'll need to attach some flexible tubing. Add a stylized nozzle that meets with my wife's approval. Then hang the apparatus on the wall. 

Unlike the picture above, I won't be drilling holes into any tiled wall. That's a recipe for Clunky Jewish Home Repairman disaster. The tile will crack. The grout will chip away. And I'll have a bathroom mess worse than any episode of explosive diarrhea.

Or my wife's remodeling rage.

Soon I'll be free from toilet paper and cleaning my nether regions with cool refreshing water. And unlike the standard settings on the immobile Tushy Bidet, I'll have the freedom and flexibility to get into all those annoying nooks and crannies. 

My bum will be cleaner than a hospital operating room.

This is in no way a knock on the Tushy Bidet. This is just the Siegels upping their Ass Hygiene Game. 

And speaking of Tushy, last week, as more of a lark, I forwarded my blog piece to the good folks at Tushy. Their PR people said it made their day. 

Lifestyle Influencer 101, complete.

And they wanted to show their appreciation. One, for my daughter requesting their ever popular Tushy 3.0 Classic bidet. And two, for writing about it.

So they sent me 2 T-shirts.


Suffice to say, the T-shirts are completely unwearable in public. 

By me and especially by my daughter.


Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Letter from Cell Block FBJ


 

Day 17,

Still holed up in my cell. 

The Facebook screws won't even listen to my case. Stuck me in this rotten hole for 30 days of Solitary Refinement, for posting shit other dogs are out there still posting.

Sure, I told some Trump-humper to "drink his bleach." So what. Hell, the president of the United States suggested the same, "...kills the covid virus in a minute, a minute. What if we get this on the inside of the body...for a cleaning. Like a cleaning."

He's at his country club, signing hats and giving wedding reception speeches and I'm still in the can. 

With no First Amendment rights.

Hell, you can do a Facebook search of Drink Your Bleach and you'll find some garage band in Indiana using that as their name. There's a community page about drinking bleach. I wouldn't be surprised if some enterprising hillbillies in the backwoods of West Virginia hadn't opened a saloon named Drink Your Bleach, "Don't forget to try our Tide Pod Potato Skins."

The good news is, the chow isn't bad. 

And I probably could've used the month off to cool my jets and slowly excrete the Trump toxins that have taken over my body for the last 5 years.

They say jail has little or no rehabilitative powers. But I'm slowly discovering it does. 

Nevertheless, I'll probably get out and go back to my old ways. I'll find the biggest, stupidest, braindead Trumpster -- a triple redundancy -- and foot stomp his or her head to the curb with a relentless list of verifiable facts and well aged Shakesperean insults. 

And I'll be back in the hole writing more letters from Facebook jail.

But until then, Serenity Now.





Monday, April 5, 2021

Q & A


I am halfway through my 30 day sentence in Facebook Jail for telling a braindead Trumpster to "drink his bleach" and web traffic is considerably down here at R17. 

Consequently I feel free to take another deep dive into one of my favorite rabbit holes -- Q and Qanon.

Considering all the outrageous theories stemming from this cult and the colorful cast of characters behind this psyop, like the Fredrick Brennan (pictured above), a wheelchair bound, toy dog aficianado, former Jew turned born again Christian, I frankly don't understand why more people are not as fascinated as I am.

If you haven't been watching the HBO documentary series, you have no idea what you are missing. And when I say no idea, you have no idea of how idealess you really are. This shit is strange. Dark. Surreal. worthy of repeated viewings.

It's so weird, I don't know where to begin, particularly since I'm only 4 episodes into the series. 

Suffice to say, the cryptic Q-drops, little messages that regularly appear and drive the Qanon people wild with loony bin theories and plans and storms, all in service of their Dear Leader, Captain Ouchie Foot, are not what they appear to be. 

The aim of Q and the folks who created Q is not political. At all. They are simply leveraging the current discord for other purposes, the one that predates power by centuries -- the original sin, greed. Because let's be honest, Republicans have no interest in governing. 

They've said as much.

Mind you, this is just my estimation, but when you hear the tales of Mr. Brennan (above) and the backstory of wizardchan, 2chan, 4chan and 8chan, all sites on the dark web, you can see that Q and the evolution of Q are nothing more than an elaborate marketing scam. 

All created to keep Qanon, the Q followers, glued to the message boards and exposed to paid advertising at 8chan, a growing platform of "free speech" that is the new home of Nazis, amateur porn, and I'm sure Russian intel officers gathering data and dishing out disinformation.

8chan was once owned by Fredrick Brennan, who annoyingly overstrokes his pet doggie, but is now owned by Jim Watkins and his son, Ron.



And oddly enough, this is where the story gets interesting.

The younger Watkins, is a tech genius and knows more about coding than I could ever learn in 100 lifetimes. He's also, I suspect on the spectrum, and comes across on camera as very distant. Not surprising since his father Jim is one of the creepiest characters you will ever have displeasure of meeting.

In addition to his dalliances with gay and child pornography, his chumminess with Steve Bannon and Roger Stone, his numerous Internet enterprises, he lives in the Philippines and raises pigs. He casually jokes that he feeds his political and business enemies to the pigs, and somehow that doesn't seem too far fetched.

He also has an unexplainable fetish for fountain pens. Expensive Mont Blanc pens that do nothing for me, but get Mr. Watkins all hot and bothered. His cloying manner is undeniably Hannibal Lector-ish.

If you haven't dipped your toe in the Q water, I suggest you do.

Oh and if you haven't argued with Qanon follower online, I suggest you do that too. 

It's like your own little movie. 





Thursday, April 1, 2021

April fool


Perhaps you've heard, our former GOTUS, Grifter of the United States of America is now available for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and bar mitzvahs (hopefully.)

As if this shabby, bloody-handed clown hasn't denigrated the presidency enough, he is now storming the internet with his party appearance con. If you go to 45office.com, you can catch whiff of this merkin-sporting flim flam. BTW, Captain Ouchie Foot would do well to hire himself a professional website designer, the white-on-white type is quite amateurish.

As you might have guessed I was first in line to get my booking with the ex-prez.

Let's take a look, shall we? (a multi-part photo series)







Please let me know if you'd like an invite.










Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Rotten peaches


Like you, I watched in disbelief, the racist tomfuckerry taking place in Georgia last week. 

Look at this photo, 7 old white men, in front of an oversized painting of a slave plantation, signing a bill to suppress the votes of African Americans. 

Outrageous doesn't even begin to describe what has happened in the formerly peachy state. Watching this unfold on CNN or MSNBC (for those of you who want to partake of tired tropes), you could see the steam bursting from wife's ears.

I turned to her and said, "if I were black, I'd be so fucking pissed."

Oooops, there it is, I did it again. I stepped in a pile of putrid white privilege. My own. And some of you probably didn't notice. 

Let's back up a bit and I'll explain. 

Years ago, I got in a political "discussion" with my friend Lando, one of the few black people ever to step foot in the Chiat/Day creative department. I remember trying to make a particular point and innocuously (or so I thought) said, "As a black person you should understand this more than anyone."

Lando stopped me in my tracks and countered, rather strongly, "I shouldn't have to be a black person to exhibit empathy for any specific cause. Do you assume only Jews can identify with and share the pain of the Holocaust?"

And of course, he was right. 

Consequently, I should be fucking pissed about what has taken place in Georgia. We should all be fucking pissed!!!

Think about this, in order to fight "voter fraud"(of which there was none) and maintain "election integrity", the Georgia GOP is closing polls on Sunday, a revered day for black voting, eliminating drop boxes, cutting down on mail-in ballots and, get this, criminalizing the act of giving water to people standing in line to vote. How very white and how very Christian.

This is nothing more than a hateful Draconian solution to a problem that doesn't even exist. In the last election close to 5 million Georgians exercised their American right to vote. After three completely unnecessary recounts, there were 16 cases of voter irregularities. S I X T E E N!!!

I did the math, of course.


That's how much "fraud" there was. And that's what commanded the attention of Klansmen/GOP representatives in Georgia.

Well, fuck them.

This week I'm redirecting a portion of my paycheck to Stacey Abrams and her continued fight to bring equality to the table. And, though I'm still breaking rocks in Facebook Jail, I am committing myself to mock and rock Governor Kemp's world with a steady stream of denigration and social media mischief.

It's on, Guv, it's on.













Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The Fountain of Deuce


I live with Europhiles. 

Three of them to be exact.

My wife has been all over Europe. My youngest daughter did a semester in Prague. My oldest did a semester in Kenya, but only after traversing the seed of western civilization. And now they are itching for a return trip to the motherland -- my DNA is 99.9% derived from the European continent.

So it came as no surprise that my oldest had developed a yearning for a bidet. Especially after being bombarded by the online ad campaign from the good folks at Tushy.

She led it be known in no uncertain terms, lacking all manner of subtlety...

"After 5000 years of civilization I can't believe we're still wiping up our butts with toilet paper. Think of how many trees had to die just we can walk around with no dingleberries. It's not good for the planet. There's got to be a better way to clean our asses."

"Ok, great, can you pass the mashed potatoes?"

Her 25th birthday was a two weeks ago. And while I normally let my wife handle the gift buying duties, it occurred to me I could score major brownie (intentional) points with my daughter if I got her the Tushy Bidet. 

Upon unwrapping her gift, her eyes lit up and she blurted (also intentional) out, "Oh my god I can't wait to take a dump." 

Yeah, that's how we roll in the Siegel household.

As with all DIY projects there were hitches. The skirted toilet -- that's a technical term -- imported from Scandinavia, made it impossible for me to reach the connector valve. The foot wide space between the toilet and the immovable vanity also presented a problem for this girthy Bob Vila.

And so I had to order an adapter that drew water from the connection by the main valve. What the Tushy people describe as a 10 minute operation turned into a 30 minute screamfest, as these projects always do. I needed to re-set the washer on one the flex pipe joint connectors to stop the spraying of water outside the bowl.

I'm happy to report it worked. And this morning my daughter had her first successful bidet use on US soil.

This was followed by...

"That was fun. I can't wait til I have to take a dump again."

That's my little influencer schpiel, other than the difficulties on my end (again, intentional) the whole operation was pretty simple. And should you feel inclined to get a Tushy Bidet, know that also receive a funny little manual, printed on brown toilet paper. These guys and gals must have shit their pants (last one) while working on this stuff.










Thursday, March 25, 2021

The tale of the mistaken book cover


I went to get my first vaccination shot at the edge of West Lawndale, near Gardena, the south LA industrial community where I started making a life for myself in Southern California by driving a warehouse forklift. 

As I stood in line at Ralph's in store Pharmacy I could not help but take notice of the man in front of me talking with the pharmacist. He was quite talkative and seemed to want every detail about his new antibiotic. I didn't mind the delay as I am no fan of needles going into my precious flesh.

As he blathered on I took notice of his many tattoos. This is hardly noteworthy as my wife and I seem to be the only Southern Californian's without tattoos. Additionally, so you get the proper picture of this young man, he was wearing a wife beater tank top and droopy drawers.

He was rather unkempt. And I won't make any presumptions about his race or ethnicity, suffice to say he was a young man of color, just not a lot of color.

As he was jabbering I took notice of an unusual tattoo written in red ink along the inside of his upper arm.

It caught me off guard. Because it was written in Hebrew. When he turned to leave I saw his face for the first time. Unshaven. Adult acne. And a broad smile. So I did what I never do and stopped him.

"Mind if I see that interesting tattoo?"

"Oh sure man it says...."

"No, no, don't tell me. I want to see if I can still read Hebrew."

"Oh cool."

He twisted his arm accordingly so I could get a better look.

"Tamshel? Temshel?"

"Close man. That's real close. It says Timshel."

Ok, I didn't want to pry, but I didn't have to. This young man was more than eager to explain.

"It's Timshel. A Hebrew word that comes from the Bible and is the key to the book East of Eden. Have you read East of Eden by John Steinbeck? It's a great book. And Timshel is the thematic thread that runs throughout. It's life changing. It you haven't read the book you have to."

I don't normally take book recommendations from strangers on line to pick up medicine for a thigh rash, but this was one of those moments in life when you have to stop and take account. 

I had wrongly made a terrible misjudgment of this young man, simply based on his appearance and his longwinded conversation about antibiotics. I usually rely on my more outwardly scholarly friends for book reccos, including George T., Paul S. and Claudia C. So I went on Amazon and bought a copy of East of Eden.

In thumbing through the 601 pages, I happened to come across the passage that explains TimShel. It is the Hebrew phrase for: Thou Mayest

I was, and continue to be humbled, by the scenario. In the future I will try not to judge a book by its cover.  Though if I commit myself to finishing this mammoth 600 page tome, I may never get out of the house again.


Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Case 67291JK/l1.3 Siegel v. Captain Fuckknuckle


What would a week on RoundSeventeen be like without a post about Precedent Shitgibbon? We might have to wait a long time before my body and my brain are drained of all the toxins acquired over the last 5 years of his mind bending regime of terror and incompetence.

Until then I will continue to rail against this monstrous magpie of monumental mendacity. 

The bug that's currently up my ass and probably will be for a long time because it so accurately demonstrates the Trumpian Way is the healthcare plan. 

If you don't recall the specifics, don't worry because I do.

On June 19th, 2020, Captain Ouchie Foot did an interview with George Stephanopoulis. George pressed the "president" on his promised new healthcare plan. As they got in the backseat of the Beast and without a moment's hesitation, the 239 lbs. Shitforbrains GOP incumbent candidate said the plan would be presented in "6 weeks probably sooner, a lot sooner."

Two months later, it was not.

When Fox News' Chris Wallace pushed him on it, he indignantly stopped Mr. Wallace mid-sentence, "Excuse me, excuse me, the plan will be ready in two weeks. It's gonna be signed."

Again, it was not.

Then, weeks before the election, in which every major poll had him losing (Stolen election, my ass) Grandpa Ramblemouth made a last ditch attempt and agreed to do a town hall with George S. again. And again, George pressed him on the new Big Beautiful Healthcare Plan."

"It's ready, we're all ready with it. It's coming out momentarily."

That was October. 

Of last year.

You would think a super patriot like Donald J. Trump, the "hardest working president ever", according to his cultist base. A base who believes he is worthy of a "Noble prize" (sic). And a revered spot on Mt. Rushmore. And an unforgetful cameo in Home Alone 2. A man who always puts America First would hold a press conference and unveil this milestone achievement in healthcare management.

But he's too busy cracking wise about Mr. Potato Head and Dr. Seuss and kicking his stolen presidential Titleist golf balls out of the rough grass an onto the fairway, to give a shit about dumb maskless Americans who will bring about a Covid 4th wave.

Here's the thing. 

That new healthcare plan, you know, the one that is more affordable than Obamacare, the one that guarantees coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, the one that will be the envy of the modern world, the one he has been working tirelessly on for oh so many years, doesn't belong to him, it belongs to us.

If I had the money and the wherewithal, I'd hire a team of ace lawyers and sue his sorry pockmarked 293 lbs. ass.

From all my years in advertising, I have a passing knowledge of Contract Law and Intellectual Property, though you'd be hard pressed to define anything I've written in the past 35 years as "Intellectual Property."

I know that all the ideas, all the notes, all the scripts and storyboards, I write or develop while being paid, by an agency or by a client, no longer belong to me. They belong to the people signing the check. All of it. It's theirs. That's the deal.

Similarly, this new big beautiful healthcare plan, developed while he was in the employ of us, belongs to us. Case closed, QED, Ipso Fatso. 

In short, "hand it over."


Tuesday, March 23, 2021

6 degrees of what?


 Got an email the other day from my good friend and former Earthlink client Claudia Caplan. 

Though we knew each other by name and personal reputation as certified copywriting contrarians, we had never crossed paths in real life. That is until the brain trust at ABC decided they had seen enough Yellow and listened to enough brand pontificating and slowly backed away from Chiat/Day. 

Leaving my partner John Shirley and I without a client, which to be clear would have suited us fine. 

We could have watched episodes of the Simpsons all day, taken two hour lunches at Playa del Rey's Szechuan Palace, home of the dishwater Won Ton Soup, and collected our rather hefty paychecks and been perfectly happy. Instead we were assigned to be the lead Creative Director team on Earthlink.

In preparation for our first big presentation, John and I tapped into the gestalt of the day and created a whole campaign around Kevin Bacon and the iconic 6 degrees of separation.

The idea in a nutshell, and subject to my foggy recollection, revolved around Earthlink's unfiltered, unrestricted, unencumbered access to the entire internet, unlike AOL or other DSP's. And to demonstrate that we showed how with Earthlink, anything and anyone the known universe could be linked (get it) back to KB in 6 moves or less.

Take for instance the classical composer Gustav Mahler.

How in the world do you get from Gustav Mahler who introduced modernism to symphonic composition to Kevin Bacon, the goofy ROTC guard in Animal House?

Mahler was born in Vienna.

Hedy Lamar was also born in Vienna.

In addition to being an actress, Lamar was also a famed inventor and created the precursor to wifi as well as echo location technology.

Echo location was used by the protagonists in Tremors to hunt down the giant earthworms.

The cast of Tremors included Kevin Bacon.

I'm sure you can see how this platform could be pushed in a million different directions. And it captured the freewheeling nature of the Internet, where you could go deep on classical composers or spend your time watching videos of cats making pancakes.

The scripts and storyboards we did are now somewhere at the bottom of a landfill in Los Feliz, but I will immodestly say it would have been a fun, groundbreaking campaign.

And Claudia agrees. Sadly she could not push this through the corporate bureaucracy that stymies so many good ideas. 

But she did see the new spot with Kevin for some mobile phone service. Neither of us could remember the name of the client. Nor, apart from the appearance of Kevin Bacon and his mention of the now dated 6 degrees game -- which left my daughters scratching their heads --could we recall any details of the commmercials.

Life in advertising.

Monday, March 22, 2021

The new Siegel Curriculum


I've been thinking.

I have a lot of time for thinking. And in case my friend George Tannenbaum hasn't made it clear, good writing stems from good thinking. 

Perhaps that's why I enjoy working from home. I have my own office. I can close a door. I don't have co-workers breathing over my shoulder at the Long Table of Mediocrity™ and I work fast. I work fast, so I can think slow. And stew over business problems and give them ample time to percolate and produce what I hope to be something worth reading or viewing or engaging in. 

Though it's apparent this piece will not qualify for any of that.

In any case, back to my thinking. 

And back to the fact that both my daughters are home for the weekend. And back to the fact that I have spent well over 1/2 million dollars to educate them in private grammar school, Catholic high school and two out of state universities.

And, sad to say, those institutions have failed me. And so, like I said, I've been thinking. Not on what these schools taught my kids, but what they didn't teach them.

Money -- Year ago, at a fundraising dinner at St. Monica's Catholic High School I had a moment to chat with the school principal. The brass there were always interested in the Jewish POV on matters. So I shared my opinion that the students would be well served with a semester or two in finance. Useful stuff, like a primer of mortgages, the danger of reverse mortgages, an introduction to investments, the ins and outs of taxes, Checkbook Management (though it's my understanding that kids don't use checks.) 

The point is, when it comes to money, my kids and I suspect many others, are woefully bankrupt.

Auto Maintenance -- This is another arena where my daughters don't have two lug nuts to rub together. I might get in trouble for saying this but I think I can be excused for going light on the auto maintenance lessons because I have daughters. If I had sons, I'm sure I would have spent some dirty, grimy time showing them how to jack up a car, how to swap out a tire, how to wrest an oil filter off, and most importantly how to fill up reserve with windshield wiper fluid. My girls were too dainty and would rather have been playing Pretty Princess.

And finally, if I had a seat on the Board of Education or better yet a seat at the table in Washington DC, still cold from Betsy DeVos's useless ass, I would mandate every that child, from age 5 -18, be given a rigorous, detailed and lengthy dissertation on the importance of....



Cleaning 




Up



After




Your



Damn



Self!!!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Happy St. Patty's Day


 

A wee greeting from your favorite 1/2 Jewish blogger.

As faithful readers of RoundSeventeen know my Hebraic tank is only half full. Enough to give me executive privilege and tell off color Jewish jokes, speak freely about our lame holidays, and crack wise about the un-aesthetically pleasing nature of Judaica home decor. 

In fact my good friend Jean Robaire, he a full Sephardic Jew, has a collection of glasses, menorahs and other assorted kitsch that is worthy of a thousand out loud laughs.

The other half of my tank, the one that makes me a first-born American, comes from my Scottish mother, born and raised in the tough town of Paisley right outside Glasgow. 

And because the good folks at 23andme have been mining and re-mining my DNA data, I have recently discovered that the people who left Scotland to come to America --my mother and her sister, my aunt Mary (RIP)-- are descended from people who left Ireland to go to Scotland.

That's right, the chromosomes don't lie. My ancestors hail from Donegal, or what one travel guide suggests is the Coolest place on Earth. I think that's a typo. I can well imagine Donegal, which is impossibly more north than Northern Ireland may be the Coldest place on Earth.

Mind you, I have not been there, though someday I'd to like to go, but I am painfully aware of the stinging cold that sweeps across the both coasts of Scotland. It is unlike any other cold experienced on the planet. And I lived in Syracuse, NY for 4 years.

Because of this recent discovery, this is the first St. Patty's Day I can celebrate as an Irishman. And you won't find many Siegels or Cohens that can say that.

With that in mind, I plan to hoist a beer or two. 

WIFE: "But you drink a beer or two, or three, every night."

ME: Tonight I'm going to drink Guiness. And I'm gonna have a wee spot of whiskey.

WIFE: You have whiskey almost every night.

ME: OK, but tonight it's going to be Bushmills.

WIFE: Maybe we should have some corned beef and cabbage?

ME: I have a better idea. Let's get some Jewish Pastrami on Rye!


Erin Go Barucha!

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Que Bella


 Like many of you, we have been enjoying Stanley Tucci's Searching for Italy.

Stanley is no Anthony Bourdain, the undisputed king of "Let's Travel on the Corporate Dime and Eat Incredible Food by the World's Top Chefs Boondoggle", but he does bring his own unique charm. I've always enjoyed his performances and find it surprising he has never won an academy award.

I think we can all agree this is another example of the Hirsute World keeping the hairless man down.

While watching the show with my wife and oldest daughter, a foodie, who we love having around the house but definitely needs to move out, there are a lot of "ooo's and aaaah's." Everything about his journey through Italy looks amazing; the architecture, the quaint villages, the too tight clothing that is supremely unwearable by girthy Americans and of course, the pasta dishes.

Though, in the opinion of this girthy male, the portions are embarrassingly small. 

Like three forkfuls of fettuccini. Served in some torturous half a coffee cup. I'm sorry that's not the way Italian food should be served. Have these folks ever been to an Olive Garden? Have they not heard of the Endless Bread Basket? If a waiter ever put these minuscule plates out in a restaurant in Hoboken or Astoria, fuggetaboutit!

Last week, Stanley was in Milan, a city we visited more than 30 years ago. 

My wife and I had been seeing each other for 6 months when she came to me and said, "I have all these frequent flier miles from business trips, do you want to go to Europe?"

How could I say no? Even though I knew traveling with someone for a 3 week stint could either make or break a relationship, we pulled the trigger.


We flew into Manchester, an American Airlines hub. On our first night about town, we walked into a true workingman's pub. There were men passed out in the corner. And others peeing on the wall. So much for the majesty of the great British Empire.

The next day we hopped on a funny beer-soaked train for the short ride to Glasgow where we ended up singing songs with locals who were all too happy to buy drinks for the Yanks. 

In Glasgow, we met my Aunt Helen and my mother's family who I had never seen before. In my aunt's modest row home in Paisley, we were introduced to the notion of decentralized heating. To save money, they only heat the rooms that people find themselves in for extended periods of time. 

There is no cold like the inside of a Scottish home cold.

I'll spare you the murky details of our New Year's Eve in Paris (Bon Ani), the wild revelers, the overturned cars, and the alcohol-induced confusion of getting lost at 2 in the morning on the Parisian Metro Rail, suffice to say it was an eventful night.

In Switzerland we rented a car and drove through the Alps into northern Italy. At one point I needed to buy a road map (this was long before NAV systems and Waze). We stopped at a gas station and the woman behind the counter, spotting us as Americans, sold me a used map. I think it cost me 800,000,000 lira. 

I'm pretty sure I overpaid.

But we made it. And my wife, who had gotten sick on some bad bratwurst in Lausanne, where we also bowled at the cleanest bowling alley on Earth ("You went to Switzerland and you went bowling? Yes, we did"), was now feeling better.

And thankfully so, because we only had 48 hours to take in all that Milan, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, had to offer. I'd post some pictures but to be honest, there all stuffed in an envelope somewhere in the garage and not easy to find. Though Deb promises to sort through all the old photos, sometime in this century.

Hopefully, with Covid waning and with a real president working (not golfing) to solve this country's problems, we will return to Italy. 

Next time when the weather is warmer. And when some of Stanley Tucci's favorite restaurant's start serving adult-sized portions. 


Monday, March 15, 2021

Reverse in study A


 Let's go back in time.

That seems to be the current gestalt, as we all yearn to go back to life before Covid. But nowhere is this reverse the clock trend more evident than in our advertising.

In the last month alone I've seen 3, count 'em three, TV spots where the time continuum is twisted and the film is run in reverse. And because it's a Saturday morning and I have nothing better to do, I'm going to suss them out for your reading pleasure. And to prove my point. 

As R17 readers know, I love to prove my points.

First up is a FedEx spot from the mighty (or perhaps I should say once mighty) offices of BBDO in New York.  Toy can see that here

As one would expect, the production value is high. I know a million dollar spot when I see one. But it seems like a long walk for a sandwich beef roast and the headscratching culmination line, "Where next meets now."

Huh?

In addition to knowing high production value, I also know focus groups. And I've got to believe more than one focus group attendee told the moderator, "I don't get that last line. I liked FedEx, when it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight."

Moving on, there's also a Hyundai Genesis spot that rolls the film in the chem machine backwards.

You can see that here.

Like the BBDO spot, this is also dripping with production value. And a shit ton of CGI work. 

And like the FedEx spot it too ends, with a line that disappoints, "Creating tomorrow, today." Perhaps I'm a little biased because when I worked in recruitment advertising and was busy luring engineers and rocket scientists to Northrop, Lockheed, TRW and Raytheon, that was our go-to headline. And a thousand other variations on it.

Finally, there's this little gem. From a healthcare company. 

This is by far is my favorite. Not only because I have become sadly aware of the healthcare mishigas in this country, but also because it's small (I am a fan of "small" commercials) and simple human storytelling technique.

You can see that here.

I love everything about this spot. And the others in the campaign. Including the sepia overtones, drab settings and mangled dialogue, all of which harken back to some Soviet style Hellscape.

Surely there must be a reason why I've gone off on this lengthy review of this spate of running film in reverse commercials. And there is. You see, even though I have parked my significantly wide ass with a new and steady employer, joinhoney.com, I believe the shameless self promotion must go on. 

Apologies to Mamet and Alec Baldwin, "ABSP, A, Always, B, Be, S, Self, P, Promoting."

And so I give you this 1993 Nissan Altima spot, not the first time a commercial was run backwards, I'd never attempt to take credit for that. But still it's a piece of work that my partner Maryann Caperna and I can still be proud of.

Here.

 

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

The Work From Home Blues


 This is an unpaid endorsement.

Actually, it's less of an endorsement for Peloton and more of a testament to the beauty of the Work from Home phenomena. 

I suppose if we had to thank Precedent Shitgibbon for anything it would be his Covid Debacle. Because he dropped the diseased-meat in the dirt, many of us are now, and have been, absent from the cubicle farms and the Long Table of Mediocrity™, and working comfortably in our sweats whilst enjoying the beauty of a 10 second commute.

This gives me ample freedom to throw on the padded shorts (to protect my sensitive ass and scrotal region) and hop on the Peleton for a quick 15 or 20 minute HIIT or Climb Ride.

As you can see from the chart, generously sent to me by the Peloton Big Data Department, I had an unusually productive February. I even re-took my FTP test and improved my results by 20%. 

You fellow Pelotoners will know what I'm talking about.

I think you'll also appreciate an important PeloHack, I've discovered. You see, many of the classes, coached by the over-zealous and over-locquacious millennials, can be short-cutted and silenced. If you turn on the subtitle option, you can mute the annoyingly peppy Peloton peeps, play your own music, and finish the workout without feeling like you've been to a sweaty Tony Robbins MotivationalFest.

In addition to my Peloton, I also have the used free weight and short rack system I purchased from Hollywood Mega-Writer Steve Levitan.

You can re-read that story here.

Evidenced by my compulsive behavior, I was lifting 7 days a week. And not seeing the results one might expect, my advanced 44 years of age notwithstanding. I've now cut back my lifting routine, more volume, less sheer power, and noticed some new rippling through out my body.

It's either that or the DiGiorno Rising Crust Pizzas we've been dining on lately.

And that's the downside of working from home.

While it's great to have my strength and cardio workouts available to me 24 hours a day and within rubber band shooting distance of my office, working from home also puts me in arm's length of our usually-stocked kitchen.

In fact, I better jump on the Peloton right now and burn some carbs. 

My daughter recently found a Culver City deli that carries great bagels and the best whitefish salad I've had since living near Monsey, NY. And that's saying something.



Monday, March 8, 2021

A 44 year's old perspective on 50


This image was stolen from my friend Susan A. (I didn't ask permission, so I won't use her full name) whose photographic abilities far exceed mine.

Truth is, I could have have taken the exact same picture but I have no knowledge of focal lensing. Moreover, Susan's red oak hardwood floors are cleaner and in much better condition than mine. (Note to self:rent a sander.)

My book, a celebration of 50 years of Chiat/Day, arrived last week. 

It literally took me ten minutes to figure out how to open the precision-cut cardboard box, which appeared to be handcrafted like one of those Hansari Kitana swords featured in every Quinton Tarantino movie. 

Oh sure, I could have just ripped through the corrugation like an overly excited kid on Christmas/Chanukkah morning, but I wanted to savor the opening. A lesson I learned from my daughter upon revealing any new Apple product.

As Lee Clow often says, even packaging is an extension of the brand, and to be sure there is something special about the Chiat/Day brand.

Even now, 4 days after receiving the book, I have yet to go through the book in its entirety. I'm haunted by my own self knowledge and my tendency towards klutziness. I just know that in the schlemiel/schlemazel folklore, I'll either spill coffee all over this prized jewel or I'll somehow fumble it and it will end up in my blazing fireplace. And we haven't lit the fireplace since November.

My sense of caution has been been heightened by social media, where I learned that not every alumni of C/D was lucky enough to get a copy. And that only a limited number of these books have found their way into print.

As you might imagine, I feel incredibly fortunate. As well as undeserving. 

Chiat/Day -- I've learned from another alumni never to leave out the Day competent as it's a sleight against Guy Day -- always felt like the 1927 Yankees. With a Murderer's Row of the ad world's top talent: Clow, Hayden, Gorman, Johns, Stein, Robaire, Penny K., Yvonne Smith, Sittig, Rabowsky, Siltanen and so many more.

Ever since I began my copywriting career at Bernard Hodes, penning 15-20 crappy recruitment ads a day, I had heard of their fame. And their dominance of the ad world. Naturally, I aspired to be there. But after attending classes and events showcased by Lee Clow and Bob Kuperman, I never really thought that would happen.

It was always too intimidating. They were out of my league. This is not false modesty, by any means. Because at the time they were. They broke boundaries and patterns and did with their minds and craftsmanship things I could only dream of.

To this day, I still have to pinch myself and remind myself I actually 'got in.' And partook a unique espirit de corps, that I never experienced at any other agency. 

As I told Lee in an email I dashed off following receipt of the book, the time I spent at Chiat/Day, including my first stint 1990-1993, before I left, 1996-2002, before I got fired, and 2004 - 2008, when I was a permalance writer with a desk in Central Park, was simply the "pride of my professional life."

His response was priceless.


I can't speak for the current landscape, but in many ways the ad agency world of the past was like high school. 

And for a brief moment in time, I got to sit at the cool kid's table.

------------------------------------------------------------------

(Today's post is dedicated to Ilene Clow, Brent Bouchez and Joe Hemp, all members of the Chiat/Day family who have recently left us, may their memory be a blessing.)

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Burnout Thursday


 

There is no regular Thursday posting today. I've decided to give myself a much needed post-pandemic break in celebration of my wife's 2nd Pfizer shot.

The relief is palpable.

Until next Monday, please enjoy these gifs: https://giphy.com/explore/trampoline-fail


Wednesday, March 3, 2021

My New Obsession

 


I'm not afraid to admit it, I have a bit of OCD. 

Not so much on the disorder part, more on the obsessive part. My obsessions rarely have a debilitating effect, with the exception of the many hours I spent researching, purchasing and creating ways to make my neighbor's noisy Malinois stop barking and shut the fuck up.

But it has been true for as long as I have known myself that if I'm in for a dime I'm in for a dollar.

And so it is with the new Masterclass subscription my wife gifted me for a recent birthday. Fair warning, you'll probably be reading about Masterclass in future posts as I now have access to close to 200 sessions in a wide variety of subjects. 

I've already peeked at some of the introduction by Aaron Sorkin, Joyce Carol Oates and some chef I never heard of and I can tell I'm going to be glued to my computer for this fascinating one on ones.

As indicated above, I'm well into the series taught by Chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov, who is not only a king of the chessboard but handles himself quite well on twitter and is unsurprisingly intelligent. I have yet to meet someone with a command of the game who is not intelligent, present company excepted.

Admittedly the first few classes are not suitable for advanced players. In them, Garry goes over some rudimentary concepts and tactics like the double attack, the triple attack, skewers, and the difference between tactical chess and strategic chess.

I've been playing chess for 38 years, ever since I was 6 years old, and so much of this is a rehash to me. That's fine. For now. I don't have the wherewithal to get into all that chess nomenclature like BXkc3 or QXd4. 

But, when he's not stuttering or reaching into the deepest recesses of his brain for the right 2nd language words (he's native Russian), Garry does have some interesting observations on playing style.

"Don't rush"

"Allow your opponent to make a mistake"

"Think long term"

"Never panic"

As you might have guessed, these are not just lessons that work well on the chessboard, they have meaningful applications in the game of life.

Which brings me to my latest scheme involving an outdoor Bluetooth speaker, mounted on my garage, and the low volume 24 hour broadcasting of bagpipe music aimed at that damned barking dog.

More on that later. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

No Shame to their Game


It's Saturday morning as I write this. Tomorrow Captain Fuckknuckle will take the stage at CPAC to give one of his trademarked "speeches". 

Meaning he'll bitch and moan about an election that was not stolen. He'll badmouth President Biden, whose roll up the sleeves work and competency has put more 50 million vaccine doses into American arms. And he'll angle to position himself as the frontrunner for the 2024 Presidential race. 

Though to be sure, he is not running for president again. 

It's simply lip service to raise money and wield his populist power over the braindead sycophants who have thrown in with him and hope to snag their share of his equally braindead base.

But what is stunning about this Fourth Reich spectacle is the abundant lack of shame.

Witness the gold plated shabby statue (10 bucks a shot to get a photo with the Golden Gaffe™) placed outside the CPAC convention, taking place in the spacious Joseph Goebbels Grand Ballroom.

This comes not even a week after the country surpassed the grim toll of 1/2 million Americans taking the Dirt Nap and feeding the maggots because of Covid. 

All because Grandpa Ramblemouth "wanted to play it down." While mocking the idea of wearing masks. While calling for "patriots" to "liberate" their states. While arranging super spreader events to feed to his manbaby ego.

And this comes less than two months after the Trump Insurrection™, for which Precedent Shitgibbon was impeached (his 2nd) and a mob of crazed neo-fascists stormed the Capitol building and threatened the lives of our Vice President and the 535 members of Congress in an attempt to overthrow the government of the United States of America.

Can we just take a moment and sit on that? 

They were willing to trash 240 years of American democracy, shit on our Constitution and render null and void the sacrifices made by every man and women who served in the military to defend our liberty and way of life, all in the service of a lying, lazy, golf playing con man who bankrupted every business he ever touched, cheated on all three of his wives, stole money from a charity, ran a scam university, condoned the murder of an American journalist, blackmailed allies for political dirt, and played patsy to Vladimir Putin!

And he has the balls to show his face in public? 

Not only does he lack the genetic material to exhibit shame, so do so many who still hold power. Complete and utter subservient bottom dwellers like:

Senator Ted Cruz

Senator Josh Hawley

Senator Lindsey Graham

Senator Tom Cotten

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green

Rep. Jim Jordan

Rep. Matt Gaetz

Rep. Lauren Boebert

If these hate-mongering, violence inciting douchebiscuits had an ounce of self respect they'd resign, go work at Cinnabon or stay at home with their heads buried under a tear-stained MyPillow.

Perhaps the inability to express shame should not be all that surprising. It's just not in our nature. As my friend Matt from Australia put it.

"I love the way you Yanks have a Super Bowl and then declare the winner a World Champion, particularly when no other country in the world plays American-style football."

Yup. that's America.












Monday, March 1, 2021

To the next twelve years


 A dozen.

There's something special about a dozen. I can't think of any other numbers other than 12 that have their own word attached to it. Oh sure 13 is a Baker's Dozen, but it's derived from its predecessor. 

There's no word for 9 of something. Your daughter could have 9 pieces of dirty laundry scattered about her room. You can't say, "would you please pick up this filthy _______ and put it in the hamper like a grown adult." 

No, you're more likely to say, "shouldn't you and your friends be looking for an apartment somewhere?"

In any case, today we have completed a dozen years of RoundSeventeen blogging. Other than staying married and being fat most my life, I've never done anything for that length of of time. I attribute that to my short attention span and my rather juvenile nature.

Twelve years is a lot of writing. Close to 2500 posts, counting the ones I've hastily deleted for various reasons: shame, self-loathing and employment background checks. 

I've written a lot of stupid stuff here. I did a week-long series on "People Who Need to Die." Admittedly it was written with tongue firmly planted in cheek and in the hyperbolic style of Jonathon Swift, but still, not my best moment.

Nor was my over the top reaction to the many incidents of global Islamic terrorism, which we can all agree needs to be eliminated and prosecuted. But sadly, in many cases, I went too far. Not proud of that. 

But I am proud that I have evolved on the matter and not just to distance myself from the rampant hate generated by Precedent Shitgibbon. Isn't it ironic that today the greatest threat to America comes from homegrown domestic terrorism?

And of course, I've done a lot of experimentation here on RoundSeventeen. Most have failed, but some have come fruition and made the successful leap from the digital world to the dusty bins found inside several garages, including The Big Book of Rants and Mr. Siegel Writes to Washington.

And who can forget my series of Drunken Haiku? Whereupon I sat myself down with a bottle of Jack Daniels, and channeling the spirit of Bukowski purposely got sloshed and tried to sling some 5-7-5 nonsense on the page. Counting syllables and mediocre Tennessee bourbon simply do not mix.

Thanks are in order for the 8 (again, no word) regular readers who, for reasons unknown, still come to RoundSeventeen for a daily dose of....frankly, I don't know what you'd call this. I still haven't figured out how to read the Google analytics, but I know unlike George Tannenbaum's blog, the readership has fallen off. 

I'm fine with that. Perfectly fine with that. The natural drop off has even happened in my own home.

"Deb, did you read today's blog?"

"Do I have to?"