Thursday, April 29, 2010

No Rainbow Roll?

Many Japanese hotels or ryokan (inns) as they are called are constructed of knotty wood. The proprietors of these ryokan determine the rates for certain rooms on the basis of the rustic quality of the wood that is visible to guest. And in accordance with aesthetic principle of Ki, humility in wood, the more knotted or imperfect the wood, the more the proprietors charge for the room.

I learned of this years ago while preparing a campaign for a luxury Japanese automaker.

Japanese culture is fascinating. There is so much to love about it: the food, the architecture, the cinema, the quiet women. And yet while much of Japanese culture has successfully found a home here in the US, there are certain customs that will never gain a foothold.

Omakase, for example.

Weeks ago I ventured into a highly-recommended Sushi restaurant on the westside. I asked for a menu, but the waitress informed me they only serve Omakase style, which for the uninformed, means the chef will literally pick what you eat. Having worked up a good hankering for spicy tuna roll, I reluctantly agreed.

But I shouldn't have. Because spicy tuna roll was the last thing the chef had any intention of serving. Instead I was greeted with a progression of ugly yellow, purple and brown-speckled fish that didn't resemble anything that had ever passed over my lips. And while I was able to fight back the gag reflex on the meal, the bill for the extravaganza presented a completely new challenge.

You see, with Omakase you not only forfeit the right to choose what you eat, you also forfeit the right to see what you'll be paying for the aforementioned fish. I'm no Tea Partier but we Americans will not stand for Mastication without Representation.

And while it may be unfair to compare fine sushi to the fare at Burger King, the Japanese would be doing themselves a favor by studying and understanding the western wisdom of, "hold the pickle, hold the lettuce, special orders don't upset us."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Serenity Now

I'm no expert at raising teenage daughters, nor is my wife, so we often find ourselves turning to those who are. At least, they purport to be.

If you were to type "books on raising teenage daughters" into Google you would come up with no less than 945,000 entries. That's a lot of ink, a lot of paper, and frankly, a lot of wasted time.

Because the secret to proper parenting doesn't come from Barnes & Noble or even the local library. It comes from your neighborhood mall and the local Bose store.

Pictured above is the Bose Quiet Comfort 15 over the ear headphones with state-of-the-art noise canceling technology. Quite possibly, no, let me be more definitive, the Best Birthday present I have ever been given.

Temper tantrums, sibling rivalry, hormonal eruptions, you have met your match. In the form of the QC 15's and the transformative power on one tiny little AAA battery.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Next Entry You Read

They say you're getting old when you begin facing issues of bladder control. I would argue the same holds true when you begin facing issues of blogger control.

This morning I literally had to Google James Whitmore and roundseventeen to make sure I had not written about today's topic.

Thankfully, I had not.

Whitmore had a stellar career, starring in more than 100 major motion pictures. One of those pictures, happened to be filmed about 10 houses down the street from mine. It was a classic 1950's yarn that reflected the uneasiness of the day. It starred Whitmore and a very young, not-yet-Nancy Reagan.

The film, "The Next Voice You Hear" was about G-d and his mysterious weekly radio broadcasts. I remember watching this movie as a little boy and quaking in fear. A lot has changed since then, not the least of which is my growing agnosticism.

Today, we can pop our Netflix-rented DVD in the player and fast forward through all the cheesy jingoism and get to the good part -- no, not when G-d speaks on the radio -- the exterior shots of Carlson Park and Culver City.

A screen grab from the movie trailer:

And a photo from my iPhone:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

That's hot

There are two kinds of men in this world.

There's the charcoal man, who loves the smell of lighter fluid and the random crackle of an unregulated flame. The kind of man who stands close to the grill so he can smell and listen to a well-marbled rib-eye steak drip its fat on eager, orange glowing briquets. The kind of man who doesn't discard the gristle but savors its flamey, fatty goodness.

And then there are those who cook with gas. Pussies, I call them.

Well, in another indication of my declining manliness, two years ago I joined the emasculated ranks of meat preparers (I won't even call it grilling), who with a touch of a button, can pre-heat the BBQ.

After constant nagging...uh, persistent nudging...from my wife, I caved in and bought one of those shiny stainless steel 5 burner beauties from the local Home Depot. And much to my surprise, I found myself seduced by its convenience, its ease and even its tasty performance.

Last week while performing a little maintenance on the Ducane Meridian 4200, I noticed that the burner tubes, which distribute the gas, had completely disintegrated. The metal had literally split open. I grabbed a digital camera, snapped a few shots and penned a quick letter to the Ducane Customer Service department.

And that's when things got interesting. But not in the way you might expect from a man who loves a good fight with corporate muckety mucks.

I got a phone call from Ducane. Their American-speaking representative told me he was shipping out replacement tubes via FedEx. At no cost to me. Shocked by this display of responsibility, I quickly thanked him and called my wife, forgetting to inquire about the decaying flavor tents. I called the company back, was not put on hold, did not have to go through some tumor-inducing phone tree and spoke with another customer service rep. who was based in Illinois, not Islamobad. She quickly pulled up my file and put in an immediate order for new V-shaped flavor tents. No questions asked.

In all, it was the kind of customer service exchange that should be documented in a textbook and handed out to the kind of clueless CEO's who feel the need to go on CBS's UNDERCOVER BOSS.

Ducane has made me a loyal customer. They may have even converted me to a Propane man.
Because I swear, with the new burner tubes and the new flavor tents, my salmon steaks have never tasted better.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

This way, no this way

If you can get past the whiney children and the shaky camerawork, you can feast your eyes on a magnificent 150 foot waterfall. You might think this little oasis is in Costa Rica or even Hawaii, but it's not.

It's right here in Los Angeles, less than 40 miles from the scummy corner of Washington and Vermont.

We hiked there with friends, who have sworn me to secrecy, so I cannot reveal the exact location.

However, I can tell you the hike down from this treacherous perch can be quite steep. Particularly when the man you are following has the attention span of a stinkbug and the navigational skills of Captain Joseph Hazelwood.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Gute zum Geburtstag

Today, if you didn't know, is Adolph Hitler's Birthday.

Had it not been for a little something called World War II and the self-induced premature bullet through the head, he would have been 121 years old.

That means thousands of Neo-Nazis will be stiff arming themselves crazy and hoisting countless lagers and ales in the Fuehrer's honor.

But what are they really celebrating?

Germany has been defanged.

There's an African American sitting in the most powerful office on the planet.

And little African American girls running amok in the White House.

Plus, rising from the ashes of Auschwitz, the vermin who were not fit to share the oxygen with the Master Race, now have the nuclear weapon, not to mention a hyperbolic hold on all the world's media, banking and free masonry institutions.

Thereby guaranteeing the Jews, not the Nazis, a virtual 1000 year Reich.

If these tattooed, hairless pinheads had any capacity for critical thinking they would see that Hitler and his brownshirts did NOT advance the cause of white supremacy.

In fact, his actions hastened its demise.

Thanks Adolph.
And Happy Birthday.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Forgive me father...whoah what's that?

A Priest, a rabbi and a Mexican walk into a bar. The Mexican orders a plate of nachos and a Dos Equis beer. The Rabbi pulls a gun out of his pocket, orders the priest into the back room and forces him to molest a 7 year old altar boy.

At least that's how the joke is told by Bishop Giacomo Babini, who blames the current church sex scandal on the world's favorite scapegoat, Da Jews or as he refers to us, the God Killers.

He also goes on to claim that the 6 million people who died at the hands of Nazi murderers probably had it coming to them. And berates Jews for reminding the world about the alleged horrors of the Holocaust, implying that if 400,000 million Catholics (1/3 of the world population equal, in other worlds a similar proportion) were singled out and butchered, the Church would have simply forgiven the transgressors and moved on.

In further statements not quoted in the article, the esteemed Bishop claimed Jews were responsible for the volcano eruption in Iceland in a further attempt to cast a dark cloud over the Vatican.

When asked to clarify his comments, Babini balked and said he was late for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

We have a winner

It had never occurred to me, but sometimes with the stream of consciousness nature of this blog it just happens, this week's entries share a common theme -- douchebaggery.

And nothing exemplifies that better than Donald Sterling's self aggrandizing ad in the Los Angeles Times.

You got an award from the LA Clipper Foundation? Don't you own the LA Clippers? Maybe you should spend less money on the yachting blazers and concentrate on getting a power forward and a point guard?

Or maybe you could skim a little off your donation to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation and hire yourself a decent art director who knows how to kern type and use photoshop.

BTW Don, there's a typo in your ad. You didn't win 20 awards, trophies and plaques in 2009. I am naming you Self-Important, Needlessly Wealthy Tool of the Year.

So the correct number is 21.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

To trash a thief

Yesterday, I touched briefly on our recent stay at a large resort. I love pools, cocktail bars and and afternoon naps as much as the next guy. What I don't like --and have made no bones about-- is people.

Take this hirsute knob (thanks to Harvey Marco for providing me with a word that aptly substitutes for douchebag.)

But let's back the story up a few hours.

My wife, a knowledgeable resort visitor, woke up very early to visit the pool and place towels and some personal items on 4 adjacent lounge chaises. This is a common practice at many hotels. And in fact, almost every other chaise near the pool had been "reserved" using this same technique.

However, when my wife and daughters came back to the pool after breakfast, this knob (I love that word) and his equally hirsute Persian Princess had absconded 2 of the seats. A confrontation ensued and instead of clearing up the misunderstanding, they summoned the Pool Security bouncers to their cause. My wife, standing all of 5 foot nothing, could do nothing in the face of this bully and some unwritten rule about not reserving seats. Ironically, later in the day they left their belongings on their seats while they dined at one of the hotel restaurants.

I didn't find out about any of this until I finished my morning round of golf. Had the inescapable deep bunkers and the dozen lost balls not raised my heart rate, the news of this altercation certainly did.

I didn't want to get my daughters upset so I told Mr. Knob he could remain in his stolen lounge chair. I also told him that I had eaten a hearty plate of chili rellenos for breakfast and that I planned to make their day a living olfactory hell. I cozied up in the adjoining chair and in fact moved closer to where he was seated.

There was a silent Mexican standoff for the next 7 minutes. And before the first shot was fired across the bough, they left. Returning the rightfully reserved seat to its rightful owners.

Do I feel bad about shaming this man and retelling this story to my loyal 6 readers?
Hell no.
Was it completely satisfying?

It is now.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Reading is fundamental

There's not a lot of concurrence amongst ad people. That agency does great work. That agency blows. He's a hack. She's a genius. They're a sweatshop. They have free bagels.

But on the topic of travel, there is unanimity.
Travel sucks.

No one, with the exception of those trapped in a bad marriage, enjoys getting on a 6:15 AM flight to Detroit to spend three days holed up at the Dearborn Courtyard Inn. Even if it is across the street from Michigan's finest falafel stand.

Leisure travel is not much better.

Recently we took the kids for a weekend getaway to spend some quality time together in a 450 sq. foot room. Staying at a big resort is never my idea of a good time, but it's what my wife wanted to do and since she is such a good sport about my afternoon napping and bad wardrobe choices, I went along for the ride. It was not without its rewards.

I noticed this sticker affixed to the low ceiling wall.

Here's the deal.

If there's a fire in the hotel and your room is reduced to ashes and your body is burnt beyond recognition because you hung your Mississippi State Football T-shirts on the fire alarm sprinkler head causing it to malfunction, your family should not be seeking recourse with the J.W. Marriot Corporation.

Their beef, and the beef of anyone in your genetic swimming pool, is with a Mr. Charles Darwin.

Monday, April 12, 2010

We have now begun our initial descent

A few days ago, a diplomat from Qatar was arrested after having a smoke in the bathroom and allegedly threatening to take down the airliner with a Richard Reid type shoe bomb.

The captain alerted the FAA (who scrambled two F-16 fighters) and landed the plane. But not without incident.

The president had to be alerted.
Emergency ground crews had to be quickly assembled.
Runways had to be cleared.
And a hundred and fifty passengers had to be put through a terrifying ordeal.

All because some half-wit (on his way to visit an imprisoned Al Queda inmate) had to quench a raging nicotine fit.

Had the TSA been doing their job, Mohammad Al Madadi would not have been permitted to board the plane. Not because he's Arab, but simply because he fails to meet the minimum IQ requirements.

In all their wisdom the FBI has decided NOT to press charges against this colossal douchnozzle. And no restitution has been offered.

But that doesn't mean the good people of Qatar are getting off scott free. Oh no. Because we Americans have every right to vote with our checkbooks.

I, for example, have just got off the phone with my travel agent and canceled our upcoming summer vacation in Qatar. I explained to my daughters they're not going to visit the Qatari Institute of Enlightenment or the Qatari Hall of Noble Peace Prize Winners. Nor will they be able to enjoy the rich tapestry of feminine art produced by the legions of great Qatari female painters and sculptors.

That will all have to wait.
Perhaps a few centuries.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Unlike the other Siegel men, I had a full head of hair up until my 40th birthday.

Then the follicles started dropping like the glass vases at a Mexican china shop during a 7.2 earthquake.

I considered all the remedies: Rogaine, plugs, toupes and testosterone reduction therapy (excess testosterone, it turns out, can cause baldness.)

All of which seemed expensive and completely unnecessary, particularly since I'm already married. It's not like I'm going on any J-dates anytime soon.

I've been resigned to curse my baldness in the dark. My desire for hair has laid dormant for many years. That is until I passed this irresistible option.

The 1-877-HAIR-650 company can restore my former fullness for only 67 cents per hair. I have yet to determine how many hairs I would need, but with a couple of more freelance assignments coming up, I may have the means to turn the clock back.

Of course, I'm no fool. If I do pull the trigger on this, I'm going to wait for their Memorial Day Buy One Hair, Get One Free Sale.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Good Morning

Came across this on Facebook, last week.

It was painted by advertising legend Bob Kuperman. Bob is also a great former boss. I don’t use that word too often, but in this case it is warranted because Bob has what so many agency leaders lack – conviction.

I remember being holed up on the 38th floor of the Chiat offices in lower Manhattan. It was a cold March night and the planners had just returned from a focus group with some very bad news. They said our “Yellow” ABC campaign, which we were about to present to Bob Iger and his head honchos the very next day, failed miserably in groups.

People didn’t like it. Correction, people hated it. Which in retrospect, is why Kupe loved it. The campaign had a point of view.

Bob told the planners to shitcan their part of the presentation and have a muffin while we worked out the final details of the pitch. We won the account. And the trajectory of my career changed forever. I’m not sure if that kind gutsy call gets made at agencies anymore, but it should.

Back to the painting.

These two lovely ladies reminded me of the Jehovah Witnesses that knock on our doors about three times a year. I might not care for their message but I do love the messengers. They come in very large groups and slowly walk up and down our street with an unusual grace and a quiet confidence.

When they come to my door I usually point out our mezzuza and tell them, “we’re all good in the faith department.” They smile, bless my family and I, and happily go on their way as if I had signed on for the cause. There’s never any cajoling. There’s only courtesy, sugar coated with more courtesy.

That’s how I like my religious extremists.

They have conviction. And they have manners.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

"This won't hurt"

I suppose if you're going to become a Urologist it helps to have a sense of humor. After all, I can think of nothing less desirable than looking at men's penises and poop chutes all day.

Anyway, had a good solitary chuckle in the doctor's men room, while filling up the specimen cup I noticed this distinctive plaque adjacent to the "Place-your-urine-in-here" Vault.

As I've mentioned before my Beverly Hills doctor is the Urologist to the Stars. He has shaken glands with some of the biggest A-listers. And he loves to talk about it.

We were discussing the recent health care bill and he told me he had a phone call from Presidential Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. Mr. Emanuel's brother Ari (portrayed convincingly by Jeremy Piven in Entourage) is also a patient.

Wow, I thought, connecting the dots and the digits. The same hand that's been up my butt has been up the butt of Ari Emanuel's, who's brother has the same metaphorically intimate relationship with the President of the United States.

If I'm allowed to be graphic -- and at this point, there's no turning back--that's like 4 fingers of separation.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I saw a Boobie

When I left the house this morning I had no idea I'd be treated to a full on shot of frontal nudity. But I was. And I'm here to gloat about it.

I live across the street from the Culver City Veterans Center, where every year some Body Building Organization stages their annual Beauty Contest. They probably call it something else. But nevertheless it is a beauty pageant. Albeit on steroids.

As this woman was getting bronzed by her entourage, her turquoise bikini top snapped around her neck like a just released rubber band. Treating me and the other slack jawed aliens to a good look at 'the girls.'

I say aliens for effect because the body building world truly is a subculture onto its own.

I came in close contact with this unique society when I was working at Chiat/Day/Mojo in Venice Beach. Our building literally butted up against the famed Gold's Gym, Mecca of the Muscle World. In fact, in good neighborly fashion, the owners at Gold's offered Chiat employees membership for an unheard $10 a month.

Foolishly I took them up on the offer. And quickly found myself out of my element. I knew my stay at Gold's was short lived when one day I was minding my own business and struggling to bench press 225 lbs. As I was feeling the burn and ready to rack the bar, a guy the size of a tool shed with a chin that looked like a bookshelf, got right up in my face.

"Give me three more. Come on, you can do this. Just three more. I'm right here give it to me. GIVE IT TO ME!!!"

He screamed at the top of his artificially inflated lungs as if the fate of the world depended on it.

It didn't.