Friday, July 31, 2009

Best graffiti ever

You don't see condom machines much anymore in the men's room. Or maybe I'm just not looking. But I do remember one particular machine at a dingy bar in Oswego, NY. Someone had bothered to scribble 6 little words that have stuck with me for so many, many years.

Right above the coin slot, it read:

"Don't chew this gum, it's awful."

Thursday, July 30, 2009

When do you need it?

There's an article on about a group of mommy bloggers who have come up with a sort of Internet Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

It seems the government is trying to crack down on unethical bloggers who might ...deep taking cash for the surreptitious endorsements of certain products or services. And so the mommies have established a benchmark for ethical blogging.

I applaud them for their pre-emptive action and for their high moral standards.

I'm going 180 degrees in the other direction.
I'll shamelessly plug anything and everything.

In fact, I'm hereby accepting RFP's from the following companies:

Four Seasons
Apple Computer
Mammoth Resort
Sony (Audio and Video)
Asics Running Shoes
Restoration Hardware
Smith and Hawken
LL Bean
Coleman Camping Equipment
Ruth's Chris Steakhouse
The Richard Petty Driving School

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

More Things Jews Don't Do

Not long ago I wrote about my impending camping trip. Today I am here, in one piece, to recount my hair-on-fire experience at the California Speedway.

For some unknown reason, my wife had given me the King for a Day Experience at the Richard Petty Driving School. An odd birthday present considering I've never watched a NASCAR race. I couldn't tell you the name of any NASCAR drivers. I've never exhibited the faintest interest in NASCAR.


Hell, I don't even eat macaroni and cheese.

Nevertheless, there I was being strapped into a 600 Horsepower multi-colored beast. When the crew chief guy flipped the ignition switch I was a split-second away from bailing out.

My palms were sweating. My feet were sweating. I'm pretty sure my stomach was sweating. But before I could utter, "You know I'm a big pussy, I don't think this is for me," he barked at me to put the car in gear and stay three car lengths behind the pace car.

I had it in fourth gear, a little prematurely I suspect, and was right on his tail through the first turn. He signalled for me to come in closer, so I laid into the accelerator. It was not like driving a car, it was more like I was piloting a land rocket. My peripheral vision disappeared. I don't remember seeing the stands. The sky. Or anything.

On top of that, I forgot everything they told us in the one hour safety session. Yellow light, no idea. Green light, not a clue. One orange cone on the apron, accelerate. Or was it decelerate?

My mind went blank. It was just two hands cemented to the thick rubber steering wheel, one foot on the gas, and a polyester jumpsuit mercilessly pinching my crotch as if to say, "You're on foreign land here, Jewboy."

But I did it. And I loved it. When the results came in I had a top speed of 128.3 mph.

I would go into a lengthier description of my day (maybe when the DVD documenting the drive comes along and I can post a Quicktime movie) but right now I've got to scratch one more activity off my list of Things Jews Don't Do.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to oil my musket.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Full Metal Slack It.

This is my hammock, there are many like it but this one is mine. My hammock is my best friend. I must master it as I master my life. My hammock without me is useless. Without my hammock, I am useless. I must nap in my hammock. I must ignore all those who seek to disturb me. My hammock is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weakness, its strength, its parts, its accessories. I will keep my hammock clean and well lubricated. I will attach a string to a nearby tree so that I can pull on that string and make my hammock swing. This is my hammock, there are many like it but this one is mine.

Semper Zzzzzzzzzzzz

Monday, July 27, 2009

Must see TV

One of the benefits of being irregularly employed is having more time with my kids.
One of the downfalls of being irregularly employed is enduring more time with my kids.

Last week, my daughter had one of those 24 hour bugs. She spent the better part of that time on the couch, nursing a fever and the remote control. She also spent the better part of the day trying to get me out of my office.

It's not easy building a client's brand and writing award-winning, or even marginal, advertising copy when a cranky 11-year-old keeps shouting, "Daddy, come in here you have to see this."

In most instances, I didn't have to see this.
In fact I'd be happy going the rest of my life never seeing Zach and Cody or iCarly or Degrassi ever again.
But when I heard my daughter laughing uncontrollably, despite her 102 temperature,
I knew this was something I did have to see.

Horrifying? Yes.
But clearly, and happily, the apple has not fallen far from the tree.

Friday, July 24, 2009

New tagline

On this, the 101st entry on Round Seventeen, I've decided to go with a new tagline. I replaced, "28,195 words, rearranged daily" with the new "Spreading cynicism since 1998."

I'm not really big on taglines.

Clients tend to think of them as a magic bullet. I can't tell you how many times I've been asked to come up with the next "Think Different." Or "Just do it." Ironically, Apple and Nike still have those taglines, but you'd be hard-pressed to find it on any of their advertising.

The truth is most clients don't have the cajones to live by one guiding principle. Or they exhibit ADHD and change the tagline before it can get any traction.

During the height of the ABC "Yellow" campaign, we wanted to roll out a different tagline every day. And we could have done it: "ABC. Coming at you." or "You gotta ABC us." Or
"ABC. Always Be Consuming."

They looked at us like we were from another planet.
But come on, its a TV network. Have a little fun.

If memory serves that meeting took place in Century City.
In August.
In 1998.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Yo quiero dirt nap

Gidget, the little chihuahua from the Taco Bell commercials died yesterday.

I got to work with the little pooch years ago in what turned out to be the last phase of the "Yo Quiero Taco Bell" campaign.

I had been handed the reigns to the account after the client had grown tired of the rising sales, the national recognition, the awards and every pimply-faced teenage boy repeating catchphrases from the commercials.

I can certainly see why they dumped Gidget for something more memorable.
Like midget cowboys doing a western style chicken dance....

Oh wait, that's not Taco Bell.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I married the wrong woman

That's a bold opening.

I know I've got to tread lightly here. Deb is not only the mother of my children, she's also a regular reader of this blog (I believe that makes 7.)

So let me start out by saying how wonderful she is. Beautiful, easygoing, and as I'm often told, saint-like (considering how I can be a colossal asswipe.) ( I just Googled that phrase and no one in the history of mankind has ever referred to themselves using that particular set of words.)

On top of all that she has a great sense of humor.

But my wife drinks tea.
I drink coffee.

Moreover, she despises coffee.
Almost as much as I despise tea. This, despite my Scottish heritage.

Other men have fantasies about French maids. Or a menage-a-trois. Or even something involving a catcher's mask. I don't.

I dream of what life would have been like had I married a woman who loves coffee as much as I do. And waking up every morning to a fresh-brewed pot of Breakfast Blend.

When is Father's Day?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"In the can, Tom"

Lately my politics have been swinging back towards the middle. I’m still adamant about fighting Islamo-fascism and curbing government spending, but I’m happy we have a President who can string words together to form a complete sentence.

Nevertheless, I am still fascinated by leftist hypocrisy.

Particularly, the Limo Liberals who want us to curb our consumption, drive eco-friendly cars and sacrifice for the sake of the future, while they maintain multiple houses, fly private jets and show up at red carpet affairs in chauffeur driven hummers. (Not to mention $10,000 dresses and $100,000 blood diamonds.)

Not long ago, I went for my 3 mile run in the neighborhood. As I was jogging down Culver Blvd. I noticed a man walking in front of me. He reached in his pocket, popped some candy in his mouth and then threw the wrapper to the curb.

As I came up on the 60-year old, white haired dude, I slipped off my headphones and admonished the bugger about littering in my neighborhood. You can imagine my surprise and my amusement when I turned and saw that the guilty party was none other than the former Mr. Jane Fonda (aka former 60's radical Tom Hayden.)

I ran a really fast 9:38 second mile pace that day. Fueled by astonishment and a healthy dose of righteous indignation.

Monday, July 20, 2009

worth 996 words

Spotted on Venice Blvd., a one stop shop for all your psychic, tarot card and feng shui needs. The owner told me, she also does tea leaves, horoscope and palm readings. She can also break out the Ouija board and write and cast personal spells.

But Rich, a picture is worth a 1000 words? What are the remaining 4?

I call this place: "The Costco of Bullshit."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

why a cock

Saw this web banner the other day on

If you cover up the left half of the ad, you'll be looking at a giant cock. Even if they didn't give it a goofy rooster face, it would still look unmistakably like a cock.

I went to their site to see what Blockdot does.

It's something called adver-games, involving, poker, dice, race cars, boxing and such. You'd think with that kind of demographic they might have opted for a clam.

Or a taco.

Or just something uncocklike.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My latte is cold.

If you've been in a Starbucks lately you might have seen a poster of this man.

His name is Mike Gill and he is the author of a book entitled, How Starbucks Saved My Life. (He also used to be my boss, but more about that later.)

It's the personal riches to rags tale of one man's descent from the corporate ladder. More specifically, it documents how Mr. Gill, once a high-flying Creative Director at an advertising agency, found himself downsized and taking a job as a barrista in Westchester, NY.

I have to take issue with the premise of Mr. Gill's saga.

First of all, he was a Creative Director at an ad agency. Having been there myself, I can tell you it's not all that high up on the corporate totem pole.

Secondly, his fall from grace is hardly that spectacular when you consider he worked at J. Walter Thompson's Recruitment Advertising Agency. That's not Goodby or Crispin or Wieden & Kennedy. Hell, it's hardly even JWT.

So while Mr. Gill claims to have worked on national campaigns for Ford and the Marines, he fails to mention that is was for their "Help Wanted" ads.

At JWT Recruitment we never went to Cannes for lions. Or picked up any pencils at the One Show. We didn't even compete at the local Beldings.

Though I believe we won a regional Addy for a two column, 800 word ad in the El Segundo Herald. We were recruiting Logistics Engineers for Northrop and the winning headline was:

Take on the challenges of tomorrow, today.

Now I hear Tom Hanks has optioned the book for a possible movie. So good for you Mike, you got a closet full of green aprons, a book and a shot at cinematic immortality, all from a simple lateral career move.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I have been blessed with a lovely wife. My lovely wife has three sisters. Also within driving distance, there's my 81-year-old mother-in-law. And of course my two beautiful, funny, eye-rolling teenage daughters.

Oh, and a dog, Nellie. Can't forget her.

That makes me the official Mayor of Estrogenopolis.

And it explains why if you check the playlist on my TIVO, you will find the complete catalogue of Hannah Montana, an inexplicable number of shows about cakes, cake-making and the people who make cakes, and of course So You Think You Can Dance.

I don't need to do a whole rant about the judge who screams like a banshee, suffice to say I'd like to see her body dropped from a Sikorsky S92 and impaled on Seattle's Space Needle.

But I do think she has inspired a new standard in the construction/home building industry.

Next time I remodel my house and the contractor asks how much insulation I'd like behind the drywall, I will tell him, "I want the walls, the floors and the ceilings to be completely MaryMurphyProof."

Monday, July 13, 2009

No mayo

I am haunted by the image of this near septuagenarian, seen regularly in ads featured in the Los Angeles Times. Though he is 69, old enough to be my father, he has the rock hard abs and body of an NFL linebacker.

In the last three years, I've run 2 marathons and been on a high protein, low carb, high exercise (swimming, running, weight-lifting) regimen that would kill many 30 year olds.

And yet, even after swearing off Jack Daniels, Chile Lime Tostitos and pregnant burritos from the El Nopal Restaurant, I still find myself struggling to squeeze into my size 34 waist jeans.

Clearly, my genes have been cursed.

In addition to excessive hirsuteness and frugality, my Bronx-born Jewish father and Glasgow-born Presbyterian mother have bequeathed me with a Kirstie Allie-like inability to metabolize calories.

Which has me wondering, does the Goodwill store accept old Speedos?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Staged Moms

Years ago, my partner and I were casting children for an Earthlink commercial.

There's a reason why people say not to work with water, animals or children.

It sucks.

On a hot August morning, we were confronted by a lobby full of 500 talentless, bratty carpet monkeys. And their even brattier moms. The morning seemed like a month.

To bring some sanity, and some levity, to an already tortuous day, we had a little sidebar with the Casting Director. We thought it would be funny to see just how badly these Holllywood Harpies wanted their children to be on TV.

So we asked the Casting Director to go into the lobby and make the following announcement:

"There's been a slight change of direction in the commercial. We need to divide the room into two groups. On the left side of the room, we'll need the moms with the unattractive kids.
And on the right side of the room, we'll need the moms with the not-so-intelligent kids."

Casting Directors do not have the same sense of humor as Creative Directors.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Greatest

Earlier this week we watched the world pay tribute to Michael Jackson. He was deified by Magic Johnson, Brooke Shields and Reverend Al Sharpton. Luminaries who, it can be argued, are the very pillars of modern day western culture.

But in their praise of The Gloved One, they have, perhaps unwittingly, subordinated the contributions of another great African American musician. Of course, I am referring to the Godfather of Soul, Mr. James Brown.

Who was the bigger star?


The edge has to go to Brown, who successfully incorporated soul, pop, funk, R&B and rock and roll into a stunning 40-year career.

Dancing Ability:

Here the point must be given to MJ, who not only gave us gravity defying leans, spins and twirls but also the inimitable Moon walk.


Though he died $400 million in debt, accountants estimate his estate is still $200 million in the black. Advantage, MJ.

Street Cred:

Arrested 8 times, convicted 5, James Brown spent more than 5 years of his life in prison. Point, The Godfather.

To break this tie, let’s look at one final criterion, Charisma. And for that let’s go to the video….

I’m sorry Berry Gordy, Micheal Jackson is not The Greatest Entertainer of all Time. That title belongs to the Godfather of Soul, who had the good sense to appear on national TV only after he had polished off an entire bottle of Courvoisier.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Girl, I wasn't sick...

As a rule I try not to bag on other people's advertising. After all I am a freelancer and I would never want to bite the hand that occasionally feeds me and my family. But rules, particularly self-imposed rules, are meant to be broken.

This current AT&T spot always merits a second and third look on TIVO. (Sadly I have not figured out how to embed video on the blog so you'll just have to view it on youtube. Also, sadly, the spot is not available in HD. But they run the hell out of it and you should be seeing it on TV.)

When you do, watch the little girl on the right. She literally mouths all the words coming from the sassy girl who got the speaking part. Clearly, her stage mom is a total failure.

On the other end of the spectrum however, is the stage mom who successfully worked the Rainbow Coalition angle and finagled a part for the Hispanic boy on the left.

I don't know what he is doing in this commercial.

And from the look in his "where's-my-Ritalin-wandering eyes," neither does he.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

RIP Waldo

In the last two weeks many celebrities have died, including: Michael Jackson, Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Billy Mays, Karl Malden and Waldo Von Erich.

Who is Waldo Von Erich?

A world-famous Canadian professional wrestler (possibly even more oxymoronic than professional adman.)

Waldo was so famous that he was listed among 58 others in Wikipedia's recent celebrity deaths. Which thoroughly debunks the ridiculous urban myth that "they come in threes."

Can we finally dispose ourselves of that insane superstition?

And while we're at it and acting like rational grown ups, can we start putting the number 13 back in elevators?

And for God's sake can we stop paying homage to the moronic belief that Nostradamus could accurately predict the future? If the man was so clairvoyant, why didn't he prevent his own death?

(OK, out of curiosity I just looked up how Nostradamus died and it turns out he called it out like a Babe Ruth home run. I stand corrected on that.)

But on that celebrity death thing, I stand by my original assertion.
And thank pink-booted, jockstrap-pulling Waldo Von Erich for posthumously proving my point.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Irony check

Mountains, blah, blah, blah.

Creeks fed by melting snow, blah, blah, blah.

Blue sky, fresh air, communing with nature, blah, blah, blah.

The best thing about driving 250 miles to the Eastern Sierras has nothing to do with any of that.

Oh sure, there's hanging out with great friends, watching the kids run around like banshees, and sleeping under the stars.

Those things are great.

But for me, the real treat is going to town to see the tattoos.

None of that multi-hued fancy, schmancy West Los Angeles ink mind you.
No faux barbed wire.
Or esoteric Asian symbols held aloft by butterflies and flowers.
No, we're talking bare breasted chicks on Harleys.
Knives through skulls.
And homemade prison markings.

But the tattoos that most interest me are the ones worn by snaggled-tooth guys in wife beater shirts. They drive decaying Fords or Chevys, held together with duct tape and fishing line. And they live in houses, filled with the intoxicating fumes of failure and crystal meth.

They not only subscribe to a delusional notion of supremacy, they feel the need to pronounce to the world in big black letters, across their pale scrawny arms, the divine awesomeness that is
"White Power."