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?"


Thursday, February 25, 2021

A gift for my 44th


As some of you might know, our former "president" -- I hesitate to call him that -- will be speaking this weekend at CPAC. Isn't it odd that a bunch of old white conservatives, just a few hundred heartbeats away from taking their eternal Dirt Nap, have named their convention after a slimy sleep aid that breeds bacteria and needs daily sterilization. 

It's the first major "speech" -- I hesitate to call what he gives, a speech, as well -- since leaving office. 

Ironically, the "speech" is to be given on February 28th. My birthday. 44, if anyone is curious.

We here at RoundSeventeen have obtained an exclusive peak at the "speech". 

How did I get hold of this prized document, which in essence is an early birthday present? Discretion prohibits me from revealing too many details, suffice to say it involved numerous Soros-paid operatives, a Mossad-trained dolphin skilled in underwater surveillance and of course, the super top secret Jewish Space Laser.

If I were to reveal any more details, my handlers would force me to watch the Woody Allen documentary while eating a pastrami sandwich slathered in mayonnaise.

So, without further ado...

"Thank you, thank you. Ah, what great Americans. What a joy it is to be surrounded by great Americans, real Americans. Thank You. Please sit down. It's been awhile since I've done one of these I hope I can remember how it's done. 

(FINGER POINTS AT CROWD)

I want to thank you for showing up. And for wearing your hats and your buttons and the flags on your car. We're still in this fight. Because that's what we do. We fight. Am I allowed to say that? Those radical socialists wanted to impeach me for saying we fight, but they lost. They're losers. And they elect losers. 

(CROWD APPLAUDS)

I'd say the sleepy guy the put in the White House is a loser too, but they tell me it's not proper etiquette to speak poorly of my succor...success..succsssess...opponent. But you know what I'm talking about. 500,000 people are dead now. And who is the president? 

CROWD: Sleepy Joe, Sleepy Joe

He's a disaster. A disgrace. And a stone cold crimnal..crnal...cimin...crook. He's a crook. But we fight. We have to. We have to keep fighting. We have not choice. We have to fight. We can't let these Deep State communists, and they are communists, believe me, they're totally owned by China, steal our elections and our great country. It's a great country.

CROWD: USA...USA...USA

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

Well you get the idea. It goes on like this and circles back over the same talking points and baseless grievances for another 90 minutes.

I have to cut it short. I have to feed the dolphin.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Stand and deliver


For those of you who have been reading RoundSeventeen, now about to be heading into its 13th inglorious and non-newsworthy year ("You should get into blogging Rich, there's big money in blogging") it will come as no surprise that I'm not the excitable kind.

Oh, I can work up a full head of steam when the world obliges and dishes out some well-earned Karma, you know for an impeachment or a lost election or some neighbor who can't find their incessantly barking dog. 

But when it comes to possessions or new carpet or even a new duvet cover that "adds some color to the master bedroom, isn't it great?", I tend to remain incurious.

That changed last week when I decided it was time to join the legions of at-home workers who tend to their duties while standing up. 

I had been told by two orthopedic surgeons that the excruciating pain in my upper thigh and my hip joint could be a direct result of my excessive fat ass in the expensive Herman Miller chair syndrome. 

Indeed, 2/3 of my 2020 was given over to work at Dollar Shave Club. Here's a link to the ridiculously undershown spot in case you haven't seen it. 

Well now I'm onto a new venture (more on that later) which similarly requires instantaneous Slack replies as well as a host of Zoom calls. Meaning I've got to put my Dollar Shave Club toiletries to good use and maintain a fresh furry-less face.

And so I went to work investigating stand up desks. A simple procedure under normal circumstances but complicated by my wife's insistence that I simply scrap all the beloved furniture in my guest bedroom turned office turned man cave. That was not happening. 

So the trick was to find something that would take up a small footprint, not clutter up the room, and leave in place my current functioning set up with my desktop computer.

Enter the Mobile Standing Desk w/Locking Wheels - MI 7969

Not to gush too much, but this puppy meets all my criteria. Moreover, during my online search I found the exact same product offered on several different websites. The price ranged from $170 to $370.

I know it was the same product because all the ads featured the same photography and the same stilted, broken English caption copy.

So now I'm standing a great part of the day. And, in what can only be described as a modern day medical miracle, my upper leg pain has subsided. Not to the point where I'll be flushing the remainder of my Vicodin pills in the toilet, but it is much better.

If there is one downside to the new working arrangement it's the camera angle on my uncamera-worthy face. More specifically, my unsightly, though freshly shaven, double chin.

Maybe I'll get one of these...



Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The business of the business


The other day a friend on Facebook was chiding me for leaving a snarky remark on a story by famed conservative Brent Bozell. The same Brent Bozell whose son was nabbed raiding the Capitol building during the Trump Insurrection™. 

BTW, I'm trademarking that phrasing because that's how the events of January 6th should be described. the failed coup d'tat should always be attributed to Captain Fuckknuckle™, another phrase that I'd love to live on for the ages.

This particular friend asked why I found it necessary to leave a snarky comment on the story and thus give it unnecessary oxygen. A fair question to be sure. And I'll be the first to admit I spend more time on social media than others.

But I will also come to my own defense and argue that having a presence on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter is a vocational necessity. It's a no-cost platform for me to self promote my product (writing). It's been the most valuable tool in my toolkit for staying on the radar of Creative Directors, Creative Resource Managers, and CEO's. 

And is directly responsible for making the phone ring.

Social media explains my modest success in the freelance writing world for more than 16 years.

I'm sure my friend George Tannenbaum, CDFTKMBCWSO of GeorgeCo, a Delaware LLC, will tell you the same thing. He, of even more advanced age than me, has mastered the broadening media landscape and has effectively farmed it for the food he puts on his table.

I had the unique privilege of working directly for Lee Clow.

I flew around the country with him, sometimes in tiny private jets with no pot to piss in, and was privy to his many marketing maxims. He schooled Steve Jobs on the matter and preached it to others as well: "every touchpoint with the consumer, from a TV commercial to an instruction manual for the AirPods, is a marketing opportunity. A chance for the brand to be the brand." 

Admittedly, there is no such thing as the Rich Siegel brand.

But there is and always will be a need to keep my name top of mind for people who need writing. Consequently, every joke or snarky political comment or half-assed badly photo-shopped meme, is an example of my capabilities, my speed, and my penchant for turning a phrase.

In essence, I'm self promoting. And it has worked. I don't want to sound immodest, but I can't tell you how many times I've entered a new gig or met the creative team and heard, "Oh you're the guy with the blog who makes all those funny comments."

Frankly, the question isn't why I spend an inordinate time on social media and use the platforms to subversively pimp my business. 

The real question should be, why aren't all copywriters and art directors doing the same?


Monday, February 22, 2021

Nocturnal Affairs


 Case # 1746:

Patient describes waking up every morning with extremely vivid dreams: an appearance on Wheel of Fortune that goes sour, an adventure in Morocco that involves camels, odd footwear and spitting snakes, a sudden growth spurt that turns a girthy 5'9" man into a 7 foot giant and the need to remodel all the doorways in his house. 

Sound familiar?

The patient is me. And it drove me to the interwebs to do my own digital doctoring, as many of us are wont to do. Turns out this phenomena, and make no mistake it is a phenomena, is quite common in the post 2020 era.

Which comes as a relief to my wife who has to listen to my rambling REM accounts of the previous night's hippocampus hiccups.

Turns out the recent spate of vivid dreaming is the result of stress and the yearlong cabin fever. In fact, it is widely viewed as function of the Pandemic.

Fuck You Trump, for the 89,533rd time. 

It is impossible to measure the damage this molt-brain flap dragon has inflicted on this nation. But I'll save that for another blog post. Or, more accurately a thousand more blog postings.

Not to say vivid dreaming does not have its upside as well. 

According to the research, wild imaginative dreams usually occur deep sleep states, which are proven to have beneficial effects. Indeed, I have been feeling more energetic and refreshed these days. I'm not waking up with a general soreness. I no longer feel the need for an afternoon nap. And I'm logging more miles on the Peloton.

All of which comes in handy for the gig I just started (more on that later.)

If there is one loser in all this, it would have to be my wife. Who, for some reason, still indulges me. Though with considerably less verve than in years past.


"...and then this monster, that could walk on water, started chasing me."

"Uh-huh."

"The monster was made of sauerkraut. Sauerkraut."

"I heard you."

"Next thing I know I'm hiding out in some sauna. With Gina Lollabrigidda."

"I'm going upstairs, I gotta put some clothes in the dryer."




Thursday, February 18, 2021

Double the Illumination Fun


 

When we last spoke with Brother JJ aka Kid Dynamite of the Illuminati, I was instructed to wire the money for my initiation via the money transfer station conveniently located inside many Walmarts.

I told him I was more a Target customer. But, oddly enough, he's a bit of an expert of money transfers from American retail outlets.

And making sure there would be no fuck ups even offered another reliable vendor in his scamming routine.



But his expertise in money sending capabilities is only surpassed by my expertise in stalling.


Never demoralized, Brother JJ lets out a little more line.


And so I oblige and bite harder on the line.


And to nobody's surprise, Brother JJ is willing to take more money.


Also not surprising, he's also willing to haggle.


Even more pleasing, Brother JJ has offered his assistance and knowledge in the arena of homophobic medicines.


How can you not love these guys?





 










Wednesday, February 17, 2021

A Page Burner


I rarely re-read books. I rarely have enough time -- or so I tell myself that -- to read a book once, why on Earth would I go back and re-read it again?

I re-read Catcher in the Rye, a book I'm sure I was forced to read in high school or as a very stoned freshman in college. I hated it then. And hated it even more the second time.

I re-read Dracula. Actually the first time I "read" it was as an audiobook when I was commuting 106.73 miles a day back and forth between Culver City and Y&R's flagship office in lovely Irvine, where one can indulge his or her choice of 159 different restaurant chains. Dracula was even better in book form. 

Keep in mind I am incredibly uninterested with anything to do with vampires, bloodsucking and 19th century Gothic horror. It's just not my bag. And yet, because of the writing, the intrigue and the pacing of the story, I found myself picturing the whole thing in my head. 

Oddly enough, just like a movie.

And so, I picked up David Frum's Trumpocracy off the shelf. I had read the book a couple of years earlier when I started digging into the Trump rabbit hole of misery. And as of late I have become a fan of Frum as well as his appearances on the nightly newscasts.

This might sound like heresy, but I enjoy listening to centrist Republican conservatives more than I do the standard liberal pundits, whose talking points I know by heart. 

There are several GOP Never Trumpers who merit your time including: Max Boot, Charlie Sykes, Jennifer Rubin, Steve Schmidt, Rick Wilson, and even Anthony Scaramucci. 

That's right, the Mooch.

He is surprisingly cogent, articulate and intelligent. I may not agree with him on many policy issues, but then again there are some that I do. It's no wonder he didn't last long in the Trump White House.

Perhaps that's the benefit of hindsight, because I cursed the Mooch when he was named to Director of Communications and found him smarmy and slippery. I looked forward to mocking him with many, many gumba-types memes.

It was with that sharpened sense of hindsight that made Trumpocracy such a fast and informative re-read. You see, Frum's book came out in 2017, at the birth of Trump regime. In 2021, we can now see how prescient David Frum was.

In chapter after chapter, he correctly predicts cabinet turnover, presidential overreach, legal entanglements  and even an impending national crisis that would test the administration to its breaking point.

In short the book is a post-mortem on the shittiest, shiftiest, lyingest douchewaffle to ever pick up a bible and swear an oath the Constitution.

I loved it.



Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Dogs Rule.


Woke up the other day to one of those Facebook memories. 

Sometimes they bring a smile to my face. Sometimes they make me nostalgic. But more often than not they remind me of how fat I was and continue to be. 

Fuck you Facebook. 

The photo above served to remind me of the day we brought Lucy into the family and rescued her from the local Adopt & Shop. But let's be clear, if we hadn't "rescued" Lucy, there were 15 families right behind us that would have. Beautiful, mild mannered Retriever/Shepherd mixes are the first to go.

I'm pretty sure I heard some bratty little girl screaming at her parents, "But I wanted that dog."

Too bad. Get a job kid.

Lucy was very skittish at first and refused to go in our backyard. Probably because her previous family, a single mother and two monstrous kids, kept her outside 24/7. And on the rare occasions where she was let in, it was rumored the kids would beat up on her.

But, in less than a week, that kind of doggie psychosis vanished. I won her trust with constant walks and rigorous training. Dogs needs structure. And Lucy loves structure. And bacon flavored meat treats. Can you blame her for that?

Lucy is a woolly creature of habit:

Wake up at 4 AM, leave her bed, come upstairs and whine to be petted.

Sleep by my side of the bed, never in the bed, until 7 AM, run downstairs to be fed, run back upstairs and whine to be petted.

Wait until I wake up and follow me around every waking minute of the whole damn day.

To be clear, this pandemic is her heaven.

To be extra clear, I don't understand the attraction. No one in my family or circle of friends would want to be with me 24/7. Hell, there are many self-loathing moments when I don't want to be near me and wish I could get away from this bloviating, glib wiseass.

But I love her. And she unreasonably, loves me.

That's not to say I understand her completely. Or that she doesn't frustrate me. 

And those of you who walk dogs will surely concur on this matter. 

Why, oh why, does a 10 minute walk around the neighborhood have to turn into a half hour let's-solve-the-murder-mystery tour? Lucy has a hardwired need to sniff every tree trunk, every bush, and every spot of crabgrass she comes in contact with. 

She's the Sherlock Holmes of Shepherd mixes.

An old man in the neighborhood was walking by and noticed her extra curious nature. He proffered up the theory that the morning walk for dogs was like their opportunity to "read the newspaper." He told me Lucy was forming a mental picture in her mind of the dogs that had been here, what they were eating and even, possibly, their attitudes towards other dogs.

That made a lot of sense.

But I just want her to take a shit already. 

I can read the newspaper and throw some meat in the bowl at the same time, why can't Lucy?


Thursday, February 11, 2021

The Illumination Lumination

 


When we last visited with Brother JJ from the Illumination, he was excusing me from Satan worship and any obligation to commit human sacrifice, or "samsara." 

Naturally this was a relief.


He was awful keen on getting to the money part.


But that will have to wait as other business is more pressing.


He's also keen on making the payment process as convenient as possible. 

Isn't that considerate of my new Illumination brother. Two emails, count em two.


As if all that weren't enough, Brother JJ is holding the position on the elder council for me. You know, after he gets his 400 greenbacks.


Walmart? Of course, I can make the payment at my local Walmart, but...


I think I'll leave it right there because there's more to come with Brother JJ, aka Kid Dynamite. 

Have a great weekend.


Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Ruminations on the Stupid Bowl


I blew it.

My Monday post should have been an exhaustive recap of the Super Bowl. But after three rum and Diet Cokes and a plateful full of smoked St. Louis style spare ribs and my wife's incredible spinach and artichoke dip -- the only way those two vegetables enter my body -- I just wasn't game for hitting the keyboard and clicking and clacking.

Also, and let's be honest here, the game sucked. It had all the excitement as one of those ESPN hardwood classics featuring the 1987 mid-season battle between the Buffalo Snoweaters and the Milwaukie CheeseRollers.

And let's be vocationally-carefree here and say the advertising sucked too. 

Apart from the occasional laugh delivered by Will Ferrell, Tracy Morgan and the Alexa new body, it was as lackluster as the Kansas City front line.

Don't even get me started on the Bruce Springsteen yankfest for Jeep. I'm a Jersey-adjacent guy and consider myself a fan, though he does have an annoying tendency towards self-importance. But this message, adorned by many, many, many crucifixes, about coming to the middle is a bunch of midwestern-hewn horsecockery.

At the risk of being redundant, I'll repeat the point I made on Facebook upon seeing the 2 minute "film."

To suggest both sides have to meet in the middle is to imply both sides walked away from the middle. A false premise if there ever was one. 81 million Americans just elected a Centrist president. 81 million Americans want a better health care system. Affordable access to higher education. A reduction in our seriously bloated military. Racial and judicial equality. In short, a more perfect union. 

Hardly the gateway drug to communism. These are not even far left "socialist" positions. They're about as middle as one can get.

On the other side of the aisle you have right wingers who allowed themselves to fall into a cult of personality. People who embrace hate. Fear. And authoritarianism. To the point that their leader incited a violent insurrection at our nation's Capitol, our House -- (Al Pacino Voice), "where our representatives do the work of the people!"--that resulted in death and injury. 

And guess what? To the amazement of sane Americans, many of these right wing Neo fascists still want to kiss his undersized wrinkly feet.

I'll have none of it.

You want to meet in the middle? Come on over. 81 million of us are already here.

Back to the Super Bowl. 

While coming excruciatingly close to having a spot on the Big Game, it has never happened for me. And now, at 44 years of age and fast approaching the sunset of my less than glorious career, it probably never will.

I'm perfectly fine with that. 

Particularly since I'm all too familiar with the process that precedes the airing of a Super Bowl spot. 

Did you know, for instance, that some agencies are already setting up the war rooms, getting out the colored Post It sticky notes, refreshing the loose leaf binder of local restaurant menus, handing out and then reading the briefs (word by painful word) to half awake creatives who will give up birthdays, weekends and anniversaries, not because they want to, but because they have to, all in order to get a spot in Super Bowl 56?

Yeah, in the words of Danny Glover, "I'm too old for this shit."



Tuesday, February 9, 2021

The Roots play the blues.


Yesterday I wrote a piece on hard labor. In hindsight it was probably wasn't too interesting to you, the reader, but it's a story I had never committed to words so it meant something to me, the writer. 

And I'm here for the laughs and the therapy just as much as you are.

Today, I want to write about a different kind of labor, the tedious kind. But to do that, allow me to back the truck up a bit.

As of late I have become a wildly enthusiastic fan of Seth Meyer. And to be honest, I was never excited about him or his SNL appearances before. He always seemed so vanilla and milquetoast. 

But the pandemic changed all that. 

Of all the late night talk show hosts who have been forced to alter their delivery and go without a live audience, I believe Seth benefitted the most. He plays to the camera and his small working crew in a way that is both entertaining and fun. You can tell he's enjoying himself. Moreover his rapid fire delivery and dead on impressions -- particularly ex-president Grandpa Ramblemouth --are a wonder in and of themselves.

"Mel...Mel...can you bring me a Diet Coke? Why is the poolboy in the house? Mel...."

Like I said, I am a fan. And so, I have set up my DirecTV DVR to "tape" his show every night. Because by the time his show comes on live at 12:30 AM, the excessive bourbon, the occasional Vicodin (for my expired hip), and the equally excessive time spent on the Peloton, and the non stop barking of my neighbor's dog, have all taken their toll on this tired 44 year old.

And this is where the topic, tedious labor, comes in. Sorry, for the long intro. 

You see, the DVR starts recording a couple of minutes before Seth's show. In other words, the tail end of Jimmy Fallon's show. I'm not a Jimmy Fallon fan. And Jimmy's show ends the SAME way every night. With his house band, The Roots, playing out his song.

Every. Damn. Night.

The camera drifts from musician to musician playing that same song. The guitar player, plucking the same strings, the piano player mindlessly banging the same keys, and the drummer tapping out the same rhythm night after night, sometimes it looks like he is sleeping.

Not only can you see the agony in their faces, you can feel it. 

I would bet the equity in my house (yes, I've used that phrase a hundred times before) that these guys wake up because they can't get that damn song out of their head. 

I don't consider myself an artist. Yes, I write for a living and have dabbled in some incredibly lightweight writing on the side, so I'm more artist-adjacent. And maybe musicians have a different mindset about playing the same shit over and over and over again. 

But my heart goes out to these extremely well paid makers of music, who just once, like Ryan Gosling playing Christmas music in Lal-La-Land, want to break the pattern and do something different. It's painful watching their on-air torture.

Of course, with Seth right around the corner, the torture is short lived.

"Mel...Mel...who's that other voice? I didn't know the Pool Boy had a brother."


Monday, February 8, 2021

Time in Hard Labor


Today's blog post is inspired by another blog post, written by my friend and NY's busiest freelance copywriter George Tannenbaum. It's the not very glamorous tale of his early manual working days and time he earned a living as a roofer. 

The work is hot, sweaty and a few rungs up the ladder from indentured servitude. In other words, It's the work American kids no longer want to do, hence the sustenance of a large class of underpaid immigrant labor. You can read his piece here.

I have my own similar tale. Pictured above is the house I grew up in. It looks a lot different now. Cleaner. Bigger (note the addition on the right). And better landscaped.

The house sits on a small plateau, in the middle of a hill that runs, from the top, where Cherry Lane School sits and a swampy area down by Lorna Lane. As such, it tended to gather water whenever there was rain or melting snow. That water found its way into the bottom floor of our modest split level ranch house.

This sent my father, a first time homeowner, into Defcon 5. 

One well established handyman from Suffern, NY estimated the repair to cost upwards of 5 thousand dollars. In the late 1960's, that was shit ton of money. It was also money he did not have. Nor, as it turns out and contrary to the many canards about my people, did any of our ner' do well relatives, who were also eating ketchup sandwiches and wearing grocery store-bought sneakers long past their prime.

My father, who long ago taught me, "if you're gonna do a job you gotta do it right" yielded to his default position, "if you're gonna do a job and can't afford to have it done right, pick up a Time Life book on waterproofing your basement and put your grumpy pre-teen sons to work."

While the old man was absorbing the tenets of good solid waterproofing, my brother and I were handed a wheelbarrow, and two sturdy spades capable of penetrating the dirt in appropriately named Rockland County and told to produce a 4 foot deep trench around 3/4 of our house. 

He paid us 10 cents a barrel. It should be noted that 7 year olds working in China were making 12 cents for an equal amount of labor.

Just thinking about it gives me night sweats. Night sweats about about my pre-pubescent spring and summer sweats.

As if that were not a tough enough challenge for two kids who spent their formative years in Jackson Heights, Queens, NY, my incredibly resourceful father built a rectangular screening device from some old 2X4's and some industrial grade chicken wire. 

He showed us how to place the removed dirt on top of the screen to sift out all the rocks and such, leaving a wheel barrow full of pristine, top soil, which we hauled to the backyard for my mother's vegetable garden.

When the trench was sufficiently dug out, we painted the exposed cement foundation with some smelly, sticky, tarry substance, which my father thought was beautiful. We laid perforated drainage pipe around the perimeter of the house. Returned the rocks back to their homes. Complemented by new heavy duty 1' inch gravel. And topped it all off with the excess soil from the garden.

The project took more than 7 months. 

And far from being the end of my father's journey into home improvement it was just the beginning. He scooped up the entire Time Life Series of books. Acquired every power tool under under the Sears Roebuck sun. And he built bookshelves. Room additions. Even a Finnish sauna in the master bathroom.

Of course, when I say He, I mean We, as in the collective. 

"Hand me the router."

"Start sanding this down."

"Fire up the grinder."

When the moat around the house was all done, my brother and I walked away with about 87 dollars a piece. I also learned that if I didn't want to live my life as a ditch digger, I'd better stay in school so I could   get a better station in life. 

A  job in advertising. 

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Thursday Photo Funnies


It's time for Thursday Photo Funnies. My self-created escape hatch that permits me to put up my obligatory Thursday post without actually committing an hour of my precious time to writing anything.

The photo above for instance came via a Facebook friend request. Obviously this attractive and quite buxom (love that word) young lady has good taste in older refined gentlemen and reached out to me after viewing some of the eye candy spotted in my profile pictures. But for the life of me I can't remember where I know her from. Particularly since I've never been to Nigeria.

Here are a bunch of other photos I found in my iPhone collection...


This was found before Nov. 3, 2020. Fortunately 81 million people came to the rescue.


Spotted on a neighborhood walk. I'd like to know the story behind this. I bet you would too.


Pinned to my desk wall, these tiny photos are the only proof I competed in triathlons. It was in pre-iPhone days and I never had the money to fork over to the race photographers.



My entrepreneurial daughter, who bought a silk screen press -- which I had to assemble -- and turned our dining room into her mini studio.



Palm Springs is beautiful.


A sunglass stand that bears an uncanny resemblance to you know who.


Since my daughter hijacked the dining room, I returned the favor and turned her bedroom into a gym. Damn these Peloton coaches talk too much.


Sunsets on the beach, why not, it's a 10 minute drive from my house.


The Endless Pandemic. Now in its 48th consecutive week.



Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Catching a big fish


It's been a while since I have engaged the Illuminati or the Illumination in any meaningful dialogue. And since my correspondence with the Directors at the Bedminster Country Club fizzled out, I thought I'd give the boys in Nigeria another run. 

Plus, it's hard to resist an offer like this...


He misspelled Illuminate so I thought I'd follow suit.



For the record, I like Catholics. And count many Catholics among my closest friends. Moreover, my daughters attended Catholic High School. I don't like needles. And I can be quite picky with which fish I eat.

Apparently Tom Dean handed my inquiry off to someone higher in the Illumination chain. Brother James John. That's right I want to speak to the manager.


Brother Jimmy John has wasted no time asking for the money. What he doesn't know is this is not my first internet rodeo.


My digging for Illumination info hit pay dirt and Brother Jimmy John sent me the full low down on the esteemed fraternal brothers. So much data in fact that it won't fit in one screen grab, so here is a copy and paste of his missive (it is chock full of funny shit)...


No brother you’re not gonna eat fish 

Congratulations as your application was approved.

Below are some vital information you are to know about the Brotherhood of Illuminati before we can immediately proceed with your initiation.

A brief history of the Illuminati:

 Adam Weishaupt (1748–1830), founder of the Bavarian Illuminati. The Illuminati (plural of Latin illuminatus, "enlightened") is a name given to a group where wealth and protection is sort. Historically, the name usually refers to the Bavarian Illuminati, an Enlightenment-era secret society founded on 1st May 1776.

1. Meeting Point of the Great members of Illuminati

 Illuminati members can meet in various places at the same time. the internet technologies provide us full free space to have a meeting in any part of the world. you will be fully enlightened on how to meet when you become a full member.

2. Influence of the brotherhood of Illuminati

 The explanation of the influence of the brotherhood have spiritual effect, and must not be communicated to a third party who have no interest to become a member. SO PLEASE BE WARNED.

 I saw a large amount of money being used to fund the projects of this group, funds that poured in from around the northern hemisphere and the world. Couriers were sent to the corners of the globe, and many of the top financial institutions had a vested interest in bringing this "new world order" to pass. This was discussed in leadership meetings; shown in videos to members of the group, such as the grainy films I saw in the 1960s showing a large round table with 13 members sitting around it, and the words "these are your leaders" spoken as the members rose and pledged allegiance to the coming new order. I will not mention the figures shown in this film in order to avoid the spiritual implications but they were well known, influential, and many were behind the banking system of the modern world. 

The Illuminati are funding this coming world order quietly, behind the scenes. We believe that money not only "talks" as the saying goes, but buys media coverage, or silence; protection; and the influence needed to shape our modern world. "As the economy goes, the nation will go," I was taught in my initiation by leaders in this group. They are practical pragmatists, in spite of this, we understand the motivation that drives much of mankind: the influence of this secret hood is wealth and power.

3. Reason for founding the brotherhood of Illuminati

 The reason for its establishment was to oppose superstition, prejudice, religious influence over public life and abuses of state power, and to support women's education and gender equality.

4. The Illuminati Hierarchy

 We have organize society in an extremely hierarchical, or stratified levels. In fact, the upper level are known as:

A, Hierarchical levels

Illuminati have divided the U.S. into 7 geographical regions, each region has its own regional council, composed of 13 members, with an advisory board of 3 elders at all. These regions have interaction in order to finance, personnel, teaching, etc. Beneath each regional council, the municipal. This is a council of 13 members, of which the head sits on the Regional Council, and provides information about local groups under his leadership. The municipality will also have an advisory council of 3

B, Leadership of local councils in a large metropolitan area look like:

1, Head of the municipality (Regional Council report)

2, Two agents (managers reporting on all the activities that are under its administration)

3, Four administrators (oversee finances, administer, set up group activities)

4, Six major trainers (over trainers in local groups, teach other trainers)

5, Below the top leadership council, will be six people set as informers or intermediaries, who go to local group meetings, interact with local group leaders, and informed the Council leadership.

C, Anarchy levels:

Levels below the leadership council are known as anarchy level. Below the mean level, the groups at the local level. It looks like this:

1,  Local "sister groups" (will vary in number, according to the size of a city or cities in the area).

2,  Large urban areas may have between ten twenty-seven group.

3,  Each sister group will be led by:

a1) Great Priests and monks: this job is rotated every three years, so that different people within the group can assume leadership roles.

b2) Each group will also have different members, with specific roles / positions in the group. These roles will be clarified in Section 2

One thing I want to emphasize to you is the fact that the Illuminati are today generational. There are members born in the group, which is highly organized, as described above. The appointment, which is explained above is common, with minor variations, with most major metropolitan regions around the globe. Centers with smaller populations will be associated with several cities in the region to create a local council leaders, and will be organized according to similar guidelines, and will be grouped together with several cities in the region to create a local council leadership.

5. Benefits of being a member of the great brotherhood of Illuminati

 While many people are unaware of the power of the Illuminati, that does not diminish the powerful dedication that they have in creating a better world for everyone. While people today are focused on wealth and caring for their own families, the Illuminati focus on courage, skills, honor, intelligence, on a worldwide scale. The ultimate goal of all Illuminati members is to change the world for the better. Here are just a few of the benefits of being a member of Illuminati.

1. As an Illuminati member and you have a task that needs to be completed, you can be rest assured that other Illuminati members will rise to the occasion and help you to achieve that goal. They will use every resource that they have to contribute to the campaign. When work has to be done, you can count of your fellow Illuminati members to be there to get your back.

2. When it comes to getting a job accomplished, the brotherhood understand the power of using their resources conservatively. This means that they simply do not through everything at a project in the hopes for a favorable outcome. The Illuminati will pace themselves and preserve those resources in an effort to getting the job completed successfully.

3. The Illuminati is not all about having a positive attitude. They take on challenges head on and in the event they do not reach the goal, they do not let that setback affect how they attack the project. One setback is seen as minor, they simply realize what went wrong and make the appropriate corrections until the job has been performed.

4. As an Illuminati member. you do not get all wrapped up in all those discussions about being racist. To an Illuminati member. there is no such thing as discrimination due to your sexual beliefs, your skin color, or how famous you are. The Illuminati is focused on achieving a goal and all people are considered equals during those efforts. The time wasted on racist tendencies can only hurt the efforts of the campaign.

5. As an Illuminati member, you take great pride in the family unit. The utmost importance is placed on helping the family and protecting them at all costs. No Illuminati member will ever sell out another member of the family by airing dirty laundry in public. The same can be said for the country. The Illuminati takes great pride in their country and will not put their fellow countrymen in harms way by revealing information that can be deemed hurtful in any way.

6. Benefits given to a new member after initiation
1. Instant $2,000,000.00 USD
2. Ring of protection to protect yourself and your family
3. International visa to travel to any countries in the world
4. A House of your choice
5. Car of your choice
6. All your wishes will be granted
7. Monthly Salary: $50,000.00 as a member of illuminati

Bearing in mind that you have fully understand the precepts of the brotherhood, you are hereby requested to proceed to the next stage which is the initiation stage.

Below is the initiation process.

In the essence of the initiation ritual and process of becoming an Illuminati, lies a simple thesis: one have to be reborn in order to be accepted. The Myth of Creation is the essence of the process.

It all starts with God, who billion of years ago, had to “commit suicide” in order to be transformed, and reborn. The Illuminati believe that the end result transformation is you becoming a “mortal”, no longer a physical subject, but a mortal. But how can one die and be reborn again? The Illuminati believe that you can only understand death if you experience it, and in a close encounter that is. By undergoing “samsara”, new recruits demonstrate their infinite power, eternal fearlessness, complete knowledge of existence and intellectual curiosity. All that is needed in order to be part of the Illuminati.

So, NATURALLY, the initiation process includes a ritual of sacrifice. For the sacrifice, there are different rituals performed, depending of the Illuminati order.

But now we have modified our sacrificial means. the sacrifice can be performed in the spiritual realm directly from our temples. in this the inductee don't need to be physically present. we buy all the sacrifices rituals materials, and invoke the spirit of the new inductee. then we perform the sacrifice directly from our temple. at the night of initiation, we tell the inductee the little assignment to do. it can be that he should not sleep that night, he/her will be awake, so that he/her will sees all that we do. In this, the responsibilities of buying the sacrifices rituals materials which will be use to make sacrifices to the Lord Lucifer before we can proceed to your initiation, such an applicant must provide the funds for the purchase of the sacrifices rituals materials in the Illuminati temple, the sacrifices rituals materials will cost you

400 US dollars only 

Please note that you don't need to physically kill a human being, or an animal as sacrifice for your initiation. we do it directly from our temple, and the inductee gets directly the spiritual effects. you need to make three wishes for us to proceed with your initiation.

Get back to us immediately, so that we can proceed to the nest step which is getting you initiated to become our member.

Best Wishes.

Temple Messenger.
Wow, that's a lot to unpack. 

It also gives me a fertile ground to pick from in my stalling techniques.


Naturally, he's unperturbed by all my inane stories and has his eye on that $400. But he's not getting that anytime soon.

At least not from me.


Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Worst. Casting Session. Ever.


By now you might have seen the new TV commercial for Dollar Shave Club

I may be biased, but I think it's funny. And the earworming musical jingle is a little catchy (by design.)

I may be also biased because I played a part in this musical number. Albeit a small part. 

But I was there for the countless Zoom calls, the late night hemming and hawing over scripts, the all too hirsute casting sessions, and the graveyard shift remote shooting (4 nights!) that took place in Poland with A+ director Andreas Nillson (he of the dark Scandanavian humor ilk.) 

And let's not forget the torturous all day focus group sessions.

But let's be completely honest here, the real credit goes to two incredible creatives, my ex-partner from RP&, art director extraordinaire, Matt Orser, and the unflappable Creative Director from down under, Matt Knapp, who it turns out is an aspiring songwriter. As well our equally unflappable producers Kristin McCarron and Judy Kreiter.

As with all undertakings of this magnitude, it also features some fun brand extensions. Here, I had a much more instrumental role to play. And literally fulfilled a lifetime goal of getting paid to write jokes about nipple hair, smelly taints and sweaty balls.

When that work becomes available, I will go into pimping mode again.

For those of you familiar with the process, you know that what shows up on screen, television or mobile device, is only a small sliver of what went on behind the scenes. And to that end, you can imagine the jocularity and the laughter that ensued on our daily videoconferencing.

I had a great and glorious 8 month run at Dollar Shave Club, now available at a store near you -- sorry, force of habit. 

It was my second long term stint on the client side. And it was entertaining as well as informative.

Considering the turbulent waters of the ad agency world, a world I swam in for 30 years, I would recommend that all creatives spend some time inside the hallowed hallways of the people that pay the bills. 

What's next for me? 

Well even if my Illuminati application doesn't go through and I don't get the house, new supercar and $3 million cash payment I was promised, I still have some exciting things on the horizon.

You can't keep a good 44 year old man down.

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Bonus Material: As we all know it is not uncommon to shoot extra footage while on the set, hoping to land some improvised magic far away from the disaproving eye of the client. 

In this case we had filmed a guy dressed as Shakespearian actor who mistakenly wonders on to the DSC set. We had the perfect actor and the right dialogue but it was deemed a long walk for a ham sandwich. Some of us thought it was funny, but it didn't make the final cut. 

We did however include the actor for the big ensemble finale. 

It still makes me smile.






Monday, February 1, 2021

Trolling Trump




Last week some enterprising Floridian paid an airplane banner hauling company to fly his message at 10,000 above sea level and circle the grounds at Mara Lago, the home of our most disgraceful, traitorous, unfit-for-oxygen 45th ex-president.

You might have caught his masterful trolling on the news. (see pic above)

I was in tears. 

For several reasons. First and foremost, why didn't I think of doing that? Second, why, if one chooses to go as big as an airplane banner, would this gentlemen or gentlewoman not consult a professional copywriter for maximum snarkage?

Worst President Ever, is true. But it's also so first round. It's pedantic. Obvious. And lacking in flair. 

"Too on the nose", as many of my former creative directors would tell me.

And so I thought, I could do better. We all could do better. 

And maybe we should. 


That's right, I have begun seeking out quotes on aerial media displays in the greater West Palm Beach area. If you know me at all -- my sympathies -- and have followed this blog for any amount of time -- more sympathies -- none of this should come as a surprise.

Maybe you even saw this on the news and thought,  "I wonder if that's Siegel's heavy handed work?"

Or must I remind you of my many trips to Trump's National Golf Course in lovely Palos Verdes, CA. 


I haven't received any pricing yet, but I can tell you that if it's not prohibitive, I plan to pull the trigger.

My 44th birthday is coming up, and this would make an ideal present I would give to myself.

If the cost is prohibitive, well that's where you come in. 

I know I have enough angry readers who would like nothing more to throat-punch the former president, the absolute worst in US history, with some professional grade wit. 

And so an online contest will be in order. 

For a $25 entry fee, your submission will be considered for lift off. You can even get a cool preview of how it would look with this easy-to-use internet generator.


It's gotta be short, not so sweet, and hopefully buzzworthy. 

I knocked these three out in 5 minutes. 




What have you got?